WA state round-up: RedBridge poll and preselections A-Z

A new poll showing Labor continuing to dominate state politics in WA, plus a vast accumulation of preselection intelligence to have emerged from recent media reportage.

RedBridge Group has a rare item of state polling from Western Australia (though not as rare as in South Australia, whose affairs of the past year or so will be covered here soon), and so radically does it differ from the last state poll that it’s hard to say where things stand. This one has Labor with a two-party lead of 59.4-40.6, and while this amounts to a 10% swing from the black swan event of 2021, it is by normal standards a remarkably strong result for a government that has been led since June by Roger Cook. The primary votes are Labor 44%, Liberal 29%, Nationals 4%, Greens 11% and One Nation 3%, which compares with election results of Labor 59.9%, Liberal 21.3%, Nationals 4.0%, Greens 6.9% and One Nation 1.3%. As noted in the post below, the poll also contains federal voting intention numbers that find Labor replicating its 55-45 advantage from the 2022 election. No field work dates at this stage, but the sample was 1200.

The release of the poll is timely from the perspective of this site, as I was about ready to unload a compendium of news relevant to the March 2025 state election. Preselection news exists in particularly abundant degree for the Liberals, who have set nomination deadlines across January and February for their numerous targets of opportunity. Except where otherwise indicated, the information below is derived from two overviews last month from Josh Zimmerman of The West Australian, one concerning the Liberals and the other Labor. Margins identified below are based on my own determinations from the recently finalised redistribution.

Starting with the Liberals:

Churchlands (Labor 1.6%): The main question being asked is whether Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas will, as widely anticipated, put his name forward in the affluent northern suburbs seat of Churchlands with a view to assuming the leadership. There were suggestions he might first have to reckon with Matt Moran, an Afghanistan veteran and former Ten Network reporter now employed in government relations at naval shipbuilder Luerssen Australia, who was “understood to enjoy strong backing at branch level”. However, Katina Curtis of The West Australian reported this week on a push within the party for him to instead challenge Ian Goodenough for preselection in the federal seat of Moore. Also mentioned in relation to Churchlands (together with South Perth and Nedlands) was former party leader Zak Kirkup, whose seat of Dawesville was swept away in 2021, but he announced this week that he would not seek a comeback at the election.

Cottesloe (Liberal 7.4%): In one of two seats retained by the Liberals in 2021, incumbent David Honey, who was deposed as leader in January, faces two challengers: Sandra Brewer, who has stepped down as executive director of Property Council WA to run, and Kirsty Barrett, chartered accountant and former Cottesloe councillor. According to a further report in The West Australian this week, entertainment lawyer Richard Evans has emerged as a potential fourth contender. Also mentioned previously was Sasha Epps, solicitor for family law firm Kitto & Kitto.

South Perth (Labor 10.1%): A report on Monday from Josh Zimmerman in The West Australian identified three names in the mix for South Perth: Greg Milner, commercial and property lawyer and mayor of South Perth since 2019; Tim Houweling, director of Cornerstone Legal; and 21-year-old (possibly now 22) Peter Hudson, who was elected to Rockingham City Council in October after running for the Liberals in Brand at the 2022 federal election and at the Rockingham state by-election in July. Party sources linked Houweling to Clan faction prime mover Nick Goiran, who wields considerable influence in southern suburbs branches. An earlier report by Joe Spagnolo of the Sunday Times indicated Goiran was poised to back high-profile lawyer Hayley Cormann, wife of fellow Clan faction principal Matthias Cormann. However, she is “believed to have ruled herself out of contention”. UPDATE: Scratch that – Joe Spagnolo of the Sunday Times reports Cormann told the party this week she would nominate.

Carine (Labor 4.0%): It was reported in November that Liam Staltari, who ran in Kalamunda in 2021 and was “viewed as a rising star”, had moved to Duncraig and was likely to nominate in a seat of Padbury that the draft redistribution proposed creating through a reconfiguration of Carine and its northern neighbour Hillarys. However, the reconfiguration was scotched in the finalised redistribution, placing Staltari in the heart of a much stronger seat for the Liberals in Carine. Should he pursue his ambitions on his home turf, he seems likely to be opposed by the defeated member from 2021, Tony Krsticevic, a member of the “Clan” faction who now serves on Stirling City Council.

Hillarys (Labor 18.9%): At a time when the draft redistribution proposed a configuration of Hillarys that would have made it much stronger for the Liberals, the seat was said to be in the sights of both Tony Krsticevic and Scott Edwardes, son of party powerbrokers Colin and Cheryl Edwardes and candidate in 2021 for Kingsley, the seat formerly held by his mother. Edwardes is part of a northern suburbs bloc that includes his parents and upper house aspirant Simon Ehrenfeld.

Nedlands (Labor 3.0%): The most widely noted contender is Brent Fleeton, City of Perth councillor and a principal of public relations firm GT Communications alongside conservative media pundit Gemma Tognini. Other names mentioned have been Anna Dartnell, an executive at resources freight firm Aurizon, and now confirmed non-starter Zak Kirkup.

Bateman (Labor 6.7%): Josh Zimmerman’s sources say Melville councillor Matt Woodall is “considered the best bet but ‘not a clear stand-out’”.

Dawesville (Labor 13.1%): Owen Mulder, head of IT strategy and integration at Woodside Energy, is “being pushed” by Nick Goiran, with whom he shares a background in the Christian Democratic Party, having been one of its candidates at the 2013 federal election. Mulder is also said to have support from Andrew Hastie, member for the corresponding federal seat of Canning.

Darling Range (Labor 14.2%): Serpentine-Jarrahdale shire president Rob Coales “looks likely to contest”.

Riverton (Labor 11.0%) and Jandakot (Labor 18.4%) Two southern suburbs seats that are “squarely in Goiran’s sphere of influence”, which “appear sewn up for Canning deputy mayor Amanda Spencer-Teo and teacher Nicole Robins respectively”.

Further afield:

Mid West (Nationals 8.2%): Mid West is an effective merger between the Nationals seats of North West Central, held by Merome Beard, and Moore, held by party leader Shane Love. Beard’s strategy for maintaining a parliamentary career that began when she succeeded Vince Catania at a by-election held in September 2022 has been to defect to the Liberals, which she did in late October, putting the two parties at parity in the lower house with three seats each and setting Beard up for a contest with her former leader.

Central Wheatbelt (Nationals 9.3%): Central Wheatbelt will be vacated at the election with the retirement of former Nationals leader Mia Davies. A report in The West Australian in August said she was likely to be succeeded as Nationals candidate by Lachlan Hunter, a former staffer to Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie and the party’s acting state director ahead of the 2021 election. Hunter has bought a home in Northam hitherto rented by Davies and owned by her predecessor, Brendon Grylls.


• The Liberal state conference in October endorsed a preselection model for the reformed Legislative Council that will continue to be based on a system of three metropolitan and three non-metropolitan regions, notwithstanding that the chamber will now be elected at large. As described by Josh Zimmerman in The West Australian, the regions will be “allocated a ‘band’ on the overall ticket based on the average Liberal primary vote they secured across the previous two elections”, excepting that the top position will go to the incumbent upper house leader – presently Steve Thomas, a member for South West region. Joe Spagnolo of the Sunday Times reports Nick Goiran is likely to take the third position designated to South Metropolitan region. Zimmerman reported Goiran was further expected to back lawyer Michelle Hofmann for a winnable position. Another aspirant is Simon Ehrenfeld, managing director of Zone Resource Services and a player in the previously noted northern suburbs bloc associated with the Edwardes family and former federal Stirling MP Vince Connelly. Of the five incumbents other than Goiran and Thomas not accounted for here, only Clan faction principal Peter Collier plans to retire.

On the other side of the aisle:

Dylan Caporn and Jake Dietsch of The West Australian report Labor’s preselection formula for the reformed Legislative Council reserves the first and fifth positions for the United Workers Union sub-faction of the Left, third and seventh for the rival Left Australian Manufacturing Workers Union sub-faction, and second, fourth and sixth for the Right. The next seven positions along will follow the same pattern, with 43% being required to win fourteen seats. Upper house leader Sue Ellery will retire, and is thought likely to be joined by Sally Talbot, Martin Pritchard and Rosie Sahanna. The Right will have only three incumbents to fill its six winnable positions if Pritchard goes, but is not of a mind to use its spare capacity to accommodate incumbents from other factions. Those Josh Zimmerman’s report identifies as in jeopardy are Lorna Harper, Shelley Payne and Darren West, from the Left-aligned United Workers Union faction; Kyle McGinn, part of the Maritime Union of Australia and the Progressive Labor faction that brings together unions associated with the Right and the Industrial Left; and Peter Foster of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union sub-faction of the Left. The latter faces a further difficulty in that factional colleague Katrina Stratton, the party’s first and likely final member for Nedlands, is considering pursuing an upper house berth.

• From the lower house, Josh Zimmerman reports Margaret Quirk (Landsdale), Matthew Hughes (Kalamunda), Lisa Baker (Maylands) and Chris Tallentire (Thornlie) are expected to join Bill Johnston (Cannington) in retirement, with Baker considered likely to be succeeded by former Bayswater mayor Dan Bull. Landsdale might go to heavyweight staffer Daniel Pastorelli, currently chief-of-staff to Roger Cook, or state party president Lorna Clarke, who has an advantage over the unaligned Pastorelli in being a colleague of Quirk in the Right. South Metropolitan MLC Klara Andric has been “sounded out” for Thornlie, and the new seat of Oakford in Perth’s outer south-east is potentially of interest to Jandakot MP Yaz Mubarakai and South Metropolitan MLC Stephen Pratt.

Miscellaneous further news:

• Last month, The West Australian reported on a Painted Dog Research poll that put an array of options to respondents for preferred premier, finding Roger Cook on 19% against 7% and 5% for Labor alternatives Rita Saffioti and Amber-Jade Sanderson, and Liberal leader Libby Mettam on 12% compared with 11% for presumed Liberal aspirant Basil Zempilas and 1% for the official Opposition Leader, Nationals leader Shane Love. The poll was conducted from a sample of 635 on the weekend of November 11-12.

• Following the disqualification of South West region MLC James Hayward, a countback from the 2021 election resulted in his Nationals vacancy being filled in September by Louise Kingston, former manager of the Manjimup Community Resource Centre. Hayward resigned from the party after being charged with child sex offences in December 2021, and was convicted and imprisoned in August. Kingston used her inaugural speech to bemoan the closure of Albany’s whaling industry in 1978.

• The government passed electoral law changes last month including increased public funding for political parties, more timely public disclosure of donations with a lower threshold, and caps on campaign spending.

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.

19 comments on “WA state round-up: RedBridge poll and preselections A-Z”

  1. Yep they are still a mess the WA opposition a news story yesterday in Perth says the Nats yes the NATS will be running candidates in every Perth metropolitan seat.Clearly spooked by McGowan removing their gerrymander.
    No love between coalition here in Perth need to sort it out fast.
    Cook is doing a good job apart from health and dithering on gas supply for locals.

  2. I’m pleased to see Cook bouncing back in the polls and in a dominating position in his own right.

    The few Liberal preselection aspirants whose names I recognise all seem likely to be the sort of Liberal MPs that will keep the state Liberals in a state of irrelevance and help Cook get another couple of terms.

    The Liberal upper house preselection seems like possibly the most confusing way of organising upper house preselections for the new system imaginable.

    On the Labor changes side, it’s a shame to see Baker go, as I always thought she deserved to ascend to higher heights, but I’ve heard some good things about Bull if he’s the likely replacement.

  3. From this distance, Roger Cook looks to be a very solid replacement for McGowen. Obviously the Liberals will win back some seats in 2025, but you’d expect WA Labor will still have a fairly imposing majority in parliament.
    And, free public transport in WA over the Christmas and January holidays, that’ll be popular.

  4. Thanks William, I had missed some of the movement in my own backyard of Bayswater.
    Dan Bull has come across well in his time on Bayswater Council and seems to have a very strong local following. This might also explain why Lorna Clarke, who represents the same ward on council is in the mix for Landsdale instead of Maylands.
    I also always wondered why Lisa Baker never made it onto the front bench?

  5. If these numbers hold up, the Liberals will be lucky to win back 10 seats at the next election. I assume it’s going to narrow over the next year, but this is not a good poll for them.

    It’ll be interesting to see who the candidate for Churchlands would be, although the Liberals shouldn’t take that seat for granted either, since it was held by Independent MP Liz Constable for 22 years and it’s in the federal division of Curtin, currently held by Teal MP Kate Chaney.

  6. Zempilas is such an absolute dickhead that it wouldn’t seem beyond the bounds of possibility that a teal-ish independent takes the opportunity to run as a voice of reason.

  7. Zempilas! Seriously? He is a footy commentator isn’t he?

    If Zempilas is your pre-ordained saviour you have a problem don’t you?

    What happened to Justin Langer – wasn’t he the talk of LNP town?

    Bring back Christian Porter.

    Or, WA libs, do the hard yards and win back respect by dint of hard work. There is always that option. I’m not sure that celebrity candidates are really the go anymore.

  8. “RedBridge Group has a rare item of state polling from Western Australia (though not as rare as in South Australia, whose affairs of the past year or so will be covered here soon), and so radically does it differ from the last state poll that it’s hard to say where things stand. This one has Labor with a two-party lead of 59.4-40.6, and while this amounts to a 10% swing from the black swan event of 2021, it is by normal standards a remarkably strong result for a government that has been led since June by Roger Cook”

    Black Swan event??? I thought that was the state flag emblem!

  9. MABWM

    Been a while since Langer was mentioned in connection with politics.
    He’s always denied he’s interested.
    I don’t listen to cricket commentary much but all those Liberals who can’t cop Albanese’s speech patterns would just love to sit through a Langer speech.
    Just tuned in a minute ago and tuned out again.
    I know people can’t help the way the speak but Langer might be well suited to the Liberals.
    Sounds like he’s complaining even when he’s not

  10. Now now MABWM, Fubar has assured us that the Lord Mayor has no interest in state politics. He has family members who helped him win the mayorial election apparently.

  11. Five candidates for Hobart Lord Mayor in a field of eight got more votes last time around than Zempilas did in a field of three. Not sure why being Perth Lord Mayor is a big deal, especially not when the guy has a very long list of controversies.

  12. It’s almost like the Utting poll showing a sudden 20% swing against Labor was almost certainly grossly wrong like some of their Federal election polling, and maybe Utting needs to recalibrate or something.

  13. “Not sure why being Perth Lord Mayor is a big deal, especially not when the guy has a very long list of controversies.”

    One thing’s for sure – Zempilas wouldn’t win the state seat of Perth which covers most of the PCC (hence the interest in Churchlands). He’s a divisive figure that’s for sure.

    I’d agree that if any seat was to have a backlash though to having Basil parachuted in there, Churchlands would be a prime candidate, especially if someone like Kate Chaney could find and back a good independent for the seat (Nedlands would also be prime territory for state Teals I’d think if any good candidates could be found to stand).

    The Libs shift from economically conservative to utterly socially conservative doesn’t play well in Perth’s western suburbs – long term I’d think it would be about winning seats further north around Joondalup/Wanneroo based on them having much higher numbers of religious conservative types. That’s why they held on in Moore when other seats were falling (and why Goodenough somehow has a base of support despite his utter uselessness).

    On those numbers, they’d suggest that the ALP could hold some seats like Scarborough, Riverton, Jandakot, Darling Range, Hillarys or Dawesville that are usually on the Liberal side of the ledger. They’re all seats the Liberals need to win if they’re to target getting back into power by 2030.

  14. Amanda Spencer-Teo aka can’t get Wilber Street roadworks done on time or in budget.

    At least she’s a reasonably local candidate quite unlike the parachuted-in state and federal members Dr Jags and Sam Lim respectively. Both of whom I have buyer’s remorse for, and bigly.

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