North West Central by-election and other WA news

A date set for WA’s first state by-election in over four years, plus news from the Liberal Party’s ongoing struggle to put the pieces back together.

I have knocked together a guide to Western Australia’s state by-election for North West Central, the date for which was set on Monday at September 17 following the official resignation of Nationals member Vince Catania. Nominations close August 26 – what’s known at present is that it will not be contested by Labor, likely making it a contest between Nationals candidate Merome “Mem” Beard, who has owned and run the Port Hotel in Carnarvon for two decades, and Liberals candidate Will Baston, owner of a pastoral property 150 kilometres east of Carnarvon and nephew of former Barnett government minister Ken Baston. The Nationals currently have four seats in the Legislative Assembly and the Liberals only two, giving Nationals leader Mia Davies the status of Opposition Leader, which would raise questions with no simple answer if the by-election result happened to make it three-all.

Other recent electorally related Western Australian state politics news:

• The Liberal Party’s state conference voted the weekend before last for a new preselection model that will grant a vote to all party members, replacing a system in which delegates were elected by each branch. However, the reform’s effectiveness in discouraging branch stacking has been limited by a failure to exclude non-branch delegates from the process, as had been recommended by the review conducted after the 2021 election debacle. This would have prevented it receiving the support of the factional leaders identified as “The Clan”, notably Peter Collier and Nick Goiran, whose power base rests largely on recruitment of members from suburban Pentecostal churches. Such support was required to clear the 75% bar required for changes to the party rules. Critics further complain that no action was taken against widespread payment of party memberships on single credit cards exposed by an audit in June.

• Suggestions that the party might be able to draft a saviour in the shape of former test cricketer Justin Langer having fallen through, more recent reports have suggested that one of the two Liberal lower house members, Vasse MP Libby Mettams, might topple party leader David Honey, Cottesloe MP and Mettams’ only lower house Liberal colleague. Rounding out the Liberal party room are seven members of the Legislative Council, including the aforementioned Collier and Goiran.

• Two cabinet ministers have announced they will not be contesting the next election: Alannah MacTiernan, following a career going back to 1993 in which she has served in federal and local as well as state politics, serving in the latter capacity in both houses of parliament and two different Legislative Council regions; and Sue Ellery, who has served in the upper house since 2001 and is currently Education Minister.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

11 comments on “North West Central by-election and other WA news”

  1. Well, if the WA state Liberals can’t reach any agreement given the size of their caucus, how can they hope of attracting voters?

    Serious electoral bashing requires extraordinary measures in order to make a come back:
    a) Either the winning party of government truly messes things up, thus leading to a massive voter backlash (think Campbell Newman in Queensland).
    b) Or the opposition truly becomes stellar in their performance, embarrassing the government day in and day out.

    So far, McGowan and the WA state Labor seem to be safe.

  2. “A date seat for WA’s first state by-election in over four years, plus news from the Liberal Party’s ongoing struggle to put the pieces back together.”
    Should that be “set” not “seat”?

  3. If the Liberals and Nationals get to three-all in the Assembly, could they do a deal to have two joint co-LOTOs, perhaps with at least one of them being a woman?

  4. The Libs in WA are going to be in opposition for an indeterminate amount of time. Let’s just say at least another 4 terms.

    Lobster with a mobster Guy’s party in Victoria, might follow suit after November.

  5. From the scant observations I am able to make from all the way on the other side of the country, the WA Libs look to be in an utterly dire state. They’ve been nearly completely stripped of anything resembling talent, their tiny caucus composed mostly of backroom hacks and the toxic Clan faction still in control of preselections. The chances of some form of conservative coalition taking government in WA in 2025 seems incredibly slim.

    But an incredibly slim chance is still a chance. There’s still two and a half years until the next state election, and anything could happen in that time.

  6. North west central, what would anyone expect, held by a labor rat, and supported by a motly crew of Liberal Losers, one in particular who received a OAM whose primary accomplishments were nothing more than being a failed pastorlist, failed alderman, failed shire president and failed state politician.

  7. “The Libs in WA are going to be in opposition”

    They are not in opposition they are a minor party, the Nats are in opposition.

  8. The Question about who would be opposition leader if both opposition parties are tied is an interesting hypothetical one. In other Westminster based parliaments around the world it has generally been a case of who the parliament as a hold recognises as leading the alternative executive government.
    During the WW2, when there was a government of National unity in the UK, the largest party outside of the governing coalition, the IPL with 4 members attempted to claim it. But this was rejected and instead a Labour member was given the role despite the fact that the party was in the coalition.
    In the ACT in the early days a coalition of crossbenchers took the role for a day before the rules were changed.
    I suspect if the Liberals and Nationals both ended up on 3 seat in WA, the government would bring in a rule and probably keep Mia Davies in the role.

  9. Its irrelevant who will lead the opposition after the By election, what I do know is that selection of State presidents on the size of their bank balance or gender has been a disaster as we saw with the Barnett’s loss of the unlosable election touting Danielle Shaeffer’s Kimberley Canal and the recent annihilation under the presidency of Fay Duda.

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