Photo finishes (upper house)

This post will progressively follow the count for the Western Australian Legislative Council.

Wednesday 1pm. In response to a reader’s inquiry I have written a more detailed assessment of South West, which runs as follows. South West is on the cusp of a three-all and four-right two-left result. On the right, the Liberals have won two seats and the remaining one or two is a contest between Nationals candidate Colin Holt, Dan Sullivan of Family First and third Liberal Barry House. Labor and the Greens add up to three quotas, but only just. The Greens candidate runs the risk of being stranded after Labor’s exclusion with Liberal, the Nationals and Family First left in the count, none of whose preferences would go to the Greens when they were excluded. The result would be 3 Liberal, 2 Labor and one to either Family First or the Nationals. This my “four-right two-left” scenario. The next count is a close race between the Nationals and Family First for exclusion, with Family First currently having their nose just in front. Family First’s exclusion would unlock preferences from various right-wing candidates that would overwhelmingly go to the Nationals, giving them the last seat ahead of the Liberals. So while the current figures point to 2 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 Greens, 1 FF, we could also get 3 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 FF; 3 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 Nationals; 2 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 Nationals, 1 Greens. Having said all that, I don’t know where the remaining votes are coming from.

Monday 11pm. Counts starting to reach useable levels of around 50 per cent of enrolment, except in Mining and Pastoral. South West is on the cusp of a three-all and four-right two-left result. On the right, the Liberals have won two seats and the remaining one or two is a contest between Nationals candidate Colin Holt, Dan Sullivan of Family First and third Liberal Barry House. In Agricultural the Nationals vote is waning slightly as the count progresses and while their candidate is still on target to win the final seat, it might equally go to Family First or Labor’s number two. The first five seats are likely to go two Nationals, two Liberal and one Labor. North Metro a clear-cut 3 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 Greens. East Metro still looking good for the third Liberal, and lineball between Labor and the Greens for the final seat. South Metro looking like 3 Liberal, 2 Labor, 1 Greens. Both the latter very good results for Liberal and very poor for Labor.

Sunday 8pm. I have no doubt that the upper house count has many surprises in store, but the following describes the situation as best as I am able to see it. About a quarter of the votes are counted but we don’t know where they’re from, so I have considered scenarios based on unscientific extrapolations from lower house votes. The result is likely to be another triumph for the Nationals, who will certainly hold the balance of power and can fantasise about as many as six seats. In the four seats that make up the grotesquely over-represented Agricultural region, the party has 41.1 per cent of the vote, less than 2 per cent shy of three quotas without taking preferences into account. However, there remains a very wide range of possible results, the only certainty being a right majority: 14 to 17 seats for the left against 19 to 22 for the right. Between one and five of the “left” seats will be held by the Greens: on the basis of my own limited information, I think Giz Watson in North Metropolitan their one certain winner. I can see 16 seats for the Liberals, no more and no less; three to six for the Nationals; zero to one each for Family First and the CDP. I arrived at these conclusions before looking at Andrew Bartlett, who seems to disagree with me only in that he doesn’t rate Family First in South West. This might be because I’m pumping up the Family First vote a little due to the personal vote of their candidate Dan Sullivan, former deputy Liberal leader and member for the local lower house seat of Leschenault.
AGRICULTURAL. Labor has done badly enough here that it is in danger of winning only one seat. The Nationals have clearly won two seats and maybe even three, with the Liberals on two and possibly one for the CDP.
EAST METROPOLITAN. Labor’s primary vote collapse is such that the Liberals stand poised to take their third seat, something they will not often achieve in this region. However, Labor might still win a third seat at the expense of the Greens.
MINING AND PASTORAL Labor and Liberal will each win two and the Nationals one. The last could either go to the Greens, Labor and even the second Nationals.
NORTH METROPOLITAN. Likely to be the anticipated result of three Liberal, two Labor and one Greens.
SOUTH METROPOLITAN. Labor are in danger of not winning the third seat to which they are accustomed here, and if they do win it will be at the expense of the Greens. Preferences should push the Liberals to a third quota.
SOUTH WEST. Three seats for the Liberals and two for Labor, with Family First starting favourite for the final seat in a race with the Greens and the Nationals.

Photo finishes (lower house)

Riverton 8002 8034 16036
Wanneroo 7299 7293 14592
Albany 8182 8065 16247
Forrestfield 8177 7935 16112
Collie-Preston 8299 7883 16182

3pm Sunday. This post will be used to follow developments in the late count. Labor can still form a minority government if it wins four out of the above five seats, remembering that in 2005 they generally did about 2 per cent worse on absent and postal votes than on booth votes. Going on the 2005 result we could expect each to seat to have about 400 postal and 2000 absent votes outstanding, although I hear there was an unusually high number of absent votes due to confusion over the new boundaries.

Western Australian election live

9.07am. There is now a notional count for Morley on the WAEC site (don’t ask me where it went last night), and it looks clear the Liberals have in fact won. So Labor needs to win Riverton, Forrestfield and Albany, and is not looking the goods in the former.

2.25am. Revised final call for the evening. The ABC gives the Liberals eight definite gains from Labor: Bunbury, Darling Range, Jandakot, Kingsley, Mount Lawley, Ocean Reef, Southern River and Swan Hills. However, I think Wanneroo can probably be added to the list. They also have their nose in front in Riverton and are very likely to pull further ahead in late counting, and a good chance of reining in Labor’s 166-vote lead in Morley and 242-vote lead in Forrestfield. However, Labor is 117 votes ahead in the notional Liberal seat of Albany, and the Liberals have lost Kalgoorlie to an independent likely to back Labor. If Labor can win three out of Riverton, Morley, Forrestfield and Albany, there might yet be a minority Labor government. However, it needs to be remembered that outside of the Mining and Pastoral region, Labor did about 2 per cent worse on non-booth votes than booth votes in 2005, to their cost in late counting. Kwinana appears to have fallen to independent Carol Adams, so any Labor government would be hanging on for dear life with the support of two independents.

1.53am. Hmm – and we’ve also got North West as “Labor win” now. Would like a clearer idea of what’s happened here – possibly an unexpected Nationals preference flow. The WAEC site says 4729 to 3985, which is unequivocal. There might be life yet in this game.

1.16am. ABC computer has moved Wanneroo from Liberal “gain” to “ahead”. Labor in fact leads by six votes, but extrapolating the pattern of late voting from last time puts the Liberals 0.6 per cent ahead.

11.59pm. An intriguing development in Morley, which has gone from Liberal win to “ALP ahead” on the ABC computer, presumably involving official preference figures (the WAEC doesn’t have such a thing on its site as the original D’Orazio-versus-Labor count was junked). If Labor does win Morley, a majority for Labor plus Labor independents becomes mathematically possible again, requiring wins in Riverton (Labor trails by 32 votes), Forrestfield (leads by 242 votes) and Collie-Preston (leads by 416 votes). However, Labor tends not to do very well in late counting.

10.48pm. The Liberals have gained Ocean Reef, North West, Jandakot, Swan Hills, Mount Lawley, Bunbury, Darling Range, Kingsley, Wanneroo, Southern River and apparently Morley. Varying degrees of doubt remain about Riverton, Forrestfield, Collie-Preston and Morley. Labor might make a notional gain of Albany. Former Labor independent John Bowler has won Kalgoorlie from the Liberals. Labor may have lost Kwinana to independent Carol Adams. Independents Janet Woollard in Alfred Cove and Sue Walker in Nedlands may or may not lose their seats to the Liberals. The numbers are 27 to 29 for Labor plus Labor independents, with either one or two of the latter; 26 to 28 for the Liberals plus Liberal independents, also with one to three of the latter; and four for the Nationals.

10.33pm. ABC computer has Southern River back as Liberal win.

10.26pm. Primary votes in Southern River are Liberal 45.5 per cent, Labor 39.2 per cent, Greens 10.1 per cent, CDP plus Family First 5.5 per cent. The latter would make it very tough for Labor indeed.

10.24pm. ABC computer only has Southern River as “LIB ahead”, when the consensus seems to be that it’s gone.

10.17pm. Morley: Labor 36.0 per cent, Liberal 34.0 per cent, John D’Orazio 17.4 per cent. D’Orazio himself presumably knows something about it, and seems to think his preferences will give it to the Liberals. With the Greens vote on 7.6 per cent, I wouldn’t be so sure quite yet.

10.09pm. Alfred Cove still complicated: Liberal 43.4 per cent, Janet Woollard 25.5 per cent, Labor 20.1 per cent, Greens 9.4 per cent. Not sure what chance of Greens preferences putting Labor ahead of Woollard.

10.05pm. Carpenter not conceding.

10.02pm. So a left-right split of between 15-21 and 17-19. Greens one to five. Nationals one to four. Zero to three for the religious parties.

10.00pm. To clarify, this upper house stuff is based on very sketchy educated guesses following on from lower house trends.

10.00pm. Upper house part six: Mining and Pastoral. Upredictable, but very likely three left, three right. Greens and Nationals both in contention.

9.56pm. Upper house part five: Agricultural. Labor not certain of two seats: could be three Liberal, one Nationals and one Family First, or maybe two Nationals.

9.52pm. Upper house part four: South West. Looking like a close shave between four-two and three-all between right and left. A third left seat would certainly go to Greens. Family First and the Nationals in the mix for the three or four right seats.

9.45pm. Upper house part three: South Metropolitan. Liberals likely to have done well enough to have won a third seat, which if true is very bad news for Labor. Could be three Liberal, three Labor; or three Liberal, two Labor, one Greens.

9.42pm. Steven Smith says last Forrestfield booth good for Labor, returning it to lineball. But nobody doubts the Liberals have won Wanneroo, which decides the issue.

9.41pm. Upper house part two: North Metropolitan. Unlikely to be other than Liberal 3, Labor 2, Greens 1.

9.38pm. Upper house part one: East Metropolitan. The swing here might just be at that exact point it needed to be to give the CDP the final seat; it could otherwise go to the Greens. Other than that, Labor three and Liberals two.

9.33pm. Consensus seems to be Liberal Bill Marmion will defeat Sue Walker in Nedlands. The consensus probably knows something I don’t: figures are Liberal 43.6 per cent, Walker 23.5 per cent, Labor 16.4 per cent, Greens 14.1 per cent. Are Greens preferences putting Labor ahead of Walker?

9.31pm. The Greens still looking likely to fall short of overtaking the Liberals in Fremantle. McGinty on 38.9 per cent, Liberal 29.7 per cent and Greens 27.7 per cent, with the only preferences to come Family First and CDP.

9.27pm. In Kwinana, independent Carol Adams is well ahead of the Liberal, 24.4 per cent to 16.9 per cent, and very likely to ride over Labor on 39.6 per cent.

9.22pm. John Bowler also playing the leverage game.

9.17pm. Labor apparently think they’re gone in Forrestfield, yet with apparently all booths in they have a lead on the primary vote and likely to go further ahead on Greens preferences. Obviously I’m missing something here. Smith sounding modestly confident about Albany.

9.15pm. Brendon Grylls of the Nationals talking tough on who he’ll support, no doubt for leverage purposes.

9.12pm. Looks like all the booths are in from Wanneroo, and it’s the straw that’s broken the camel’s back. The Liberals lead 43.6 to 40.3 per cent, the Greens are on 8.6 per cent and apparently flowing weakly to Labor, and the CDP and Family first (5.3 per cent between them) would be going the other way. Most likely result looks like Labor with maybe 25 or 26 plus two Labor independents, with 30 required for a majority.

9.07pm. ABC computer gives Fremantle back to the Greens, but with 46.1 per cent counted and the computer’s unreliable record in calling contests involving the Greens.

9.05pm. Julie Bishop pretty much calling a Labor defeat.

9.03pm. Smith now sounding gloomy about Forrestfield as well as Wanneroo, and they need to hold both. Riverton and Collie-Preston very close; Labor 300 votes ahead in Albany.

9.02pm. Situation confused in Kwinana, but Antony Green and Stephen Smith seem to think the independent Carol Adams will win it.

9.01pm. Labor lead dwindling in Albany.

8.59pm. Regarding Fremantle: The gap between the Liberals and Greens is getting very wide though.

8.58pm. A reader says I’m too quick to write off the Greens in Fremantle, which may well be right.

8.57pm. ABC has Liberal 1.3 per cent ahead in Wanneroo, which would mean the end for Labor if so. But Antony Green warns that projections can be unreliable in this kind of growth corridor seat.

8.55pm. ABC computer giving North West to Labor, confirming what we’ve been hearing via scrutineers for a while.

8.54pm. ABC computer calling Collie-Preston for Labor.

8.51pm. Seats crucial to the outcome according to ABC commentators: Albany (51-49), Collie-Preston (51-49, big booth to come), Riverton (shaky), Wanneroo (49-51), Forrestfield (50-50), Joondalup (looking good for Labor). Labor would need to win all of them.

8.50pm. Labor clearly home in Joondalup, the 1.5 per cent swing very surprising under the circumstances.

8.48pm. Labor still ahead in Albany with 33.5 per cent now counted, after being stuck on 17 per cent for a long time. But the big booths in Albany proper as opposed to the rural hinterland could yet reverse this.

8.46pm. ABC computer calling Kalgoorlie for John Bowler, so there’s one piece of good news for Labor. ABC has given Kwinana back to Labor, formerly given to independent Carol Adams.

8.45pm. ABC now calling Wanneroo for the Liberals. Morley depends on John D’Orazio’s preferences, with reason to believe they will cost Labor the seat. Chamber graphic says Labor 29 seats, but that’s at the upper range of what seems likely. If it’s true there might yet be a minority government with support from John Bowler in Kalgoorlie.

8.43pm. Raw primary vote with 46.3 per cent counted: Labor down 6.2 per cent to 35.7 per cent, Liberal up 3.3 per cent to 39.0 per cent, Nationals up 1.2 per cent to 4.8 per cent, Greens up 3.9 per cent to 11.5 per cent. If that holds, the pollsters have done very well, but maybe calculated the 2PP wrong due to mistaken preference assumptions.

8.42pm. Jim McGinty’s scare over in Fremantle. As I was about to say, parts of Fremantle are migrant and low-income areas that don’t vote Greens, but other parts are very bohemian.

8.41pm. ABC computer still calling Joondalup for Labor, which I thought they would have dropped at a losing election.

8.40pm. Liberal Riverton candidate Mike Nahan complaining of expensive Labor campaign in Riverton, but says it has come at the expense of Labor defeats in Southern River and Jandakot.

8.38pm. Talk of Greens preferences overall behaving in peculiar ways. Labor can normally depend on at least 70 per cent of them and is reportedly not getting them.

8.35pm. 37.5 per cent counted in Fremantle, parts of which are greener than others, but Greens well ahead of Liberal 29.5 per cent to 27.3 per cent and Jim McGinty on a very weak 39.9 per cent. Parts of Fremantle are greener than others, but McGinty in big trouble from there.

8.34pm. Looks like I wreak havoc wherever I tread – LP now crashing. Have added what I posted there below.

8.30pm. Steven Smith calling Morley for the Liberals, but thinks John Bowler has won Kalgoorlie. Thinks Albany in play, but we’ve heard nothing about it from ages. Collie-Preston, Riverton, Joondalup, Forrestfield and Wanneroo all more or less 50-50. Outer limits of best case scenario for Labor means minority government plus John Bowler.

8.20pm. Thanks Mark. Labor can only afford to lose nine seats.

Labor losses: Darling Range, Ocean Reef, Bunbury, Jandakot, Mt Lawley, Southern River, Swan Hills, Kingsley

Labor in trouble: Forrestfield, Wanneroo, North West, Wanneroo.

Close: Forrestfield, Collie-Preston, Joondalup, Riverton, Morley.

Miracles Labor can hope for: Albany, independent John Bowler in Kalgoorlie.

Shocks: Labor appears to have lost Kwinana to independent Carol Adams, and Jim McGinty might lost Fremantle to the Greens.

8.25pm. I’ve taken it over to Larvatus Prodeo.

8.13pm. Labor still ahead in Collie-Preston, just barely, with almost all booths counted.

8.10pm. ABC calling Joondalup for Labor, but I wouldn’t stake the bank on that yet.

8.08pm. Forrestfield “in trouble”, Steven Smith almost calling it.

8.06pm. Contest narrowing in Wanneroo …

8.06pm. But Matt Birney’s critique of The West up in lights.

8.05pm. Regarding the outages, I’ve just written to Larvatus Prodeo to see if I can do my live blog there, so keep an eye out there if I go down here for the long-term.

8.04pm. Matt Birney not sounding certain though.

8.01pm. Swing showing to Labor in Scarborough – probably an anomaly or an error.

8.00pm. Liberal also ahead in Forrestfield.

7.53pm. Labor out of the woods in Kimberley.

7.52pm. Now also chat of poor Greens preference flow, which if accurate means even bigger trouble.

7.48pm. Definite losses: Bunbury, Jandakot, Kingsley, Mount Lawley, Ocean Reef, Darling Range. Big trouble: Wanneroo, Swan Hills, North West (though Swan Hills down from “LIB WIN” to “LIB AHEAD”). Possibly Labor gain in Albany, but I’ll believe that when I see it. Nothing lately from Kalgoorlie.

7.46pm. So Mount Lawley gone. Smith seems to think Labor need to win all of Wanneroo, Southern River, Joondalup, Riverton, Collie-Preston, and at least one of those seems unlikely. Swan Hills, North West gone … you’d almost start thinking about calling it.

7.45pm. News flash – early double digit swing in Wanneroo, computer calls it for Liberal.

7.44pm. No, Labor now ahead in Collie-Preston. The moral of the story is that these early ABC calls are probably less reliable than normal due to the redistribution and perhaps the high non-major party vote.

7.42pm. ABC calls Ocean Reef and Collie-Preston for Liberal.

7.40pm. I’m back … Labor appear to be conceding Mount Lawley, but they’re holding on in Riverton and might even win Albany, although I wouldn’t be sure about the latter – this will be the rural booths where Labor didn’t campaign in the past. The city booths could still lose it for them.

7.35pm. Labor back ahead in Riverton.

7.32pm. Bad news continues to accumulate for Labor – Liberal now ahead in Riverton.

7.31pm. Liberal now ahead in Alfred Cove.

7.29pm. It’s calling Cannington for Liberal is well. Labor had better hope that there are a lot of anomalies coming through at the moment.

7.28pm. ABC calls Mount Lawley for Liberal with double digit swing.

7.27pm. ABC calls Pilbara for Liberal, which means it’s all over if so. I wouldn’t call that seat quite yet, but a number of bad results are accumulating for Labor.

7.25pm. Stephen Smith suggests trouble in North West as well. I believe what he just said about Riverton is out of date now, i.e. a new booth has been better for them.

7.24pm. One piece of good news for Labor: swing in Riverton a manageable 0.6 per cent with 8.9 per cent counted.

7.24pm. ABC computer has Liberals ahead in Kimberley with 7.9 per cent swing, 5.3 per cent counted.

7.18pm. Very ugly swing against Labor in Cannington also.

7.18pm. Third news flash: Also calls Southern River for Liberal. Huge trouble for Labor if this keeps up.

7.17pm. Another news flash: ABC calls Jandakot for Liberal, 10 per cent swing from 6.6 per cent. Big shock.

7.14pm. News flash: ABC calls Swan Hills for Liberal. I wouldn’t quite call it yet: 6.6 per cent swing from 5.9 per cent counted not good for Labor though.

7.13pm. ABC calls Morley for Labor, but its judgements can be awry when independents are involved. John D’Orazio not looking in the hunt.

7.16pm. ABC calls Scarborough for Liberal, 3.9 per cent swing from 18.8 per cent counted.

7.13pm. I speak too soon – now “LIB AHEAD” by 0.4 per cent, 25.7 per cent counted.

7.12pm. Labor still highly competitive in Collie-Preston with 22.6 per cent counted.

7.10pm. ABC computer has “ALP AHEAD” in Albany, but only 5.2 counted.

7.09pm. First two Nedlands booths encouraging for Sue Walker.

7.09pm. First booth from Swan Hills, Gidgegannup Town Hall, gives Labor a dangerous 7.1 per cent Liberal swing.

7.08pm ABC computer calls Kalamunda for Liberals.

7.06pm. Labor might be a little troubled by 5.5 per cent swing from 5.5 per cent counted in Girrawheen, if it proves typical for the northern suburbs.

7.04pm. Labor doing a little better than I had expected in the first rural booths from Collie-Preston.

7.03pm. ABC computer calls Bunbury for Liberal – 9.5 per cent swing from 6.3 per cent counted.

6.58pm. Early Alfred Cove results show Janet Woollard might struggle to get ahead of Labor – down to Greens preferences. This from the Labor-voting end of the electorate though.

6.51pm. Two good early booths in for Labor from West Swan, maybe boding well for them in Swan Hills.

6.50pm. Julie Bishop reading too much into early Morley figures.

6.49pm. Very strong performance from Bowler also on early pre-poll votes.

6.47pm. Very encouraging first booth for John Bowler in Kalgoorlie – Kalgoorlie District Education Office, 434 votes.

6.42pm. Only 289 votes, but the Lower Kalgan Hall booth in Albany has swung heavily to Labor.

6.29pm. “Early Votes (In Person)” starting to appear – pre-polls, in other words.

6.28pm. Very first rural booths show encouraging signs for the Nationals.

6.00pm. Welcome everybody. Polling booths are now closed: very first results should be in from about 20 minutes. While away the time by viewing my election day snaps, and keep an eye on the tussle for Mayo in the thread below.

Newspoll: 50-50; Westpoll 51-49 to Labor

The last polls of the WA election campaign are in: 50-50 in Newspoll, 51-49 to Labor in Westpoll. The respective samples are 1802 and 402. Westpoll also has marginal seat polls of around 400 voters, showing the Liberals leading 54-46 in Scarborough, 56-44 Kingsley, 59-41 in Kalamunda and 52-48 in Collie-Preston, while Labor leads 50.5-49.5 in Riverton. None of these seats are must-wins for Labor.

The two-party figures conceal a collapse in the Labor primary vote, put at 35 per cent by Newspoll and 37 per cent by Westpoll (compared with 41.9 per cent in 2005). However, much of the lost vote is leaking to the Greens (12 per cent in Newspoll and 11 per cent in Westpoll, compared with 7.6 per cent in 2005) and coming back as preferences. Newspoll records by far the worst ever personal ratings for Alan Carpenter, with 42 per cent satisfied (down seven points) and 48 per cent dissatisfied (up eight points). Barnett is on 40 per cent and 43 per cent; Carpenter still leads as better premier 48 per cent to 35 per cent. Westpoll has the latter measure at 47 per cent for Carpenter and 27 per cent for Barnett, suggesting its smaller sample might be skewed to Labor.

Interestingly, Tony Barrass of The Australian talks of “Newspoll’s additional analysis in the 10 most marginal Labor seats” which “reveals an average two-party Labor vote of 48 per cent”. That amounts to a swing of 4 per cent, which would cost Labor nine seats and government if applied evenly across the 10 (unless John Bowler wins Kalgoorlie, as some are suggesting). However, Robert Taylor of The West writes that Labor are holding up relatively well in the southern suburbs, suggesting they should retain Jandakot and maybe even Riverton.

This raises the question of which seats are dragging up the average. Expectations are that John Castrilli will perform very strongly in his bid for re-election in Bunbury. It has been observed that Labor are struggling in the northern suburbs, which Westpoll backs up with a 6 per cent swing in Kingsley. This might have significance for Ocean Reef and Joondalup, notwithstanding that Labor has heavily targeted those seats while abandoning Kingsley. A Labor win in Jandakot could thus be cancelled out by a Liberal win in a northern suburbs seat further up the pendulum. That might mean Joondalup or perhaps Wanneroo, where new developments have been breaking out like acne over the past four years. Most of these have been concentrated around the new suburb of Tapping, whose booths split about 57-43 in favour of the Liberals at the federal election. Alan Carpenter could be found there yesterday campaigning at the local primary school.

Boy, this is going to be fun.

In the upper house, strong Greens polling suggests they should win four seats, although they have been disappointed before on election night. That should reduce Labor to 13 seats out of what is likely to be a combined “left” minority result of 17 seats out of 36. My tip for the 19 seats of the “right” is 14 Liberals, three Nationals (also performing strongly in Newspoll, confirming anecdotal evidence) and two Family First.

WA election minus two days

The big news of the last week has been Labor’s publicising of comprehensive internal polling from the marginal seats of Albany, Kingsley, Riverton, Ocean Reef and Swan Hills. The figures show Labor trailing 34 per cent to 48 per cent on the primary vote, or 45-55 on two-party preferred. The trend line in the polling showed that just one week ago Labor was leading 52-48 on the back of a post-debate rally, restoring their fortunes after the much-touted 6 per cent swing picked up the previous week. I assume we’re talking about unadjusted results for the five specific seats, in which case they compare with a 2005 result of 51-49. It must be remembered that there are peculiarities to this particular collection of seats: Kingsley had a slightly anomalous result last time, local issues involving Leach Highway may be biting in Riverton, and Labor doesn’t have sitting members in its notionally held seats of Ocean Reef and Swan Hills. Against this is the fact that Labor can expect a better-than-average result in Albany, as they will be campaigning seriously in the newly added areas for the first time. On balance, the sample of seats used might be expected to add up to a slightly above average swing. If another 2 per cent can be accounted for by the margin of error and late efforts to scare waverers, Labor will still get its nose in front. Otherwise …

Labor is certainly behaving like a party with the smell of death in its nostrils, judging by the pitch of its scare campaigns on uranium mining and GM crops. However, The West Australian remains loftily dismissive of the message Labor is trying to send on polling, and indeed most other things. It should hope for vindication on this score, as last Thursday its front page proclaimed: “Forget talk of a tight race – Labor’s home, say WA’s two best political commentators”. Both of those commentators remain unmoved by the latest Labor figures. Paul Murray writes: “The pretty graphs shown fleetingly on television last night are not the detailed polling figures that are needed to examine Labor’s claims properly, as the ABC journalists who presented them know full well.” Such reliance on polling strategy is compared unfavourably with “Labor titans like John Curtin, Doc Evatt, Gough Whitlam and Bob Hawke”, who “bravely plotted their own political courses, according to their consciences, in their dealings with the electors.” You are invited to contemplate a Paul Murray transported in time to the early 1970s, turning out columns in praise of the brave and principled leadership of Gough the Titan.

Robert Taylor writes that Labor “only has to improve between 2 and 3 per cent by polling day and it wins”, which makes it sound so easy. Furthermore, “the poll produced by Labor yesterday wasn’t too much different from the way things were running in the last week of the 2005 election campaign when Geoff Gallop came from behind just a week out to record a comfortable victory” – though on that occasion Labor had the free kick of Colin Barnett’s costings debacle two days out from polling day. Great weight is given to the survey’s other findings: “24 per cent of those polled said they could remember something that appealed to them about a Barnett message while 38 per cent said they could remember and liked something the Premier had said”, while only 31 per cent thought the Liberals ready for government (which interestingly compares with low-20s figures being put around at the start of the campaign). Expectations of the result are much as they’ve always been: 61 per cent of voters believed Labor would win, compared with 18 per cent for the Liberals. The bookies too remain non-plussed, offering $1.25 on Labor and $3.50 on Liberal.

UPDATE: Super-size all that: today the bottom of the front page is headlined, “Speculation ALP back on track as new polling figures withheld”. This is based on Labor’s refusal to release its figures for a second day running. The West is also literally running free Liberal advertising.


• More on The West Australian: A mirthful Matt Birney told 6PR’s Simon Beaumont that the Liberals had “certainly been aided and abetted by the West Australian newspaper – and more power to them I say, good on you guys, keep it up”. The West responded to this embarrassing assessment by criticising the ABC. Inside Cover’s Neale Prior went so far as to provide a direct number for ABC news chief Kim Jordan, encouraging readers to call and annoy him (anyone got Prior’s number?). Prior noted that the paper had equally been slammed for Labor bias by no less an authority than Colleen Mortimer, a reader who had sent them an email.

• The front page of the Liberal site features the television ad which Labor’s pollsters blame for their apparent slump. I personally don’t find the ad so devastating that it explains a 7 per cent reversal, and find myself wondering if the furore over the TruthAboutTroy website might have crystallised doubts about Labor’s style.

• There’s also a seventh radio ad on the Liberal site, and it’s yet another Whingeing Wendy effort (this time with a male voiceover). Radio advertising has been a point of difference between the two campaigns, with Labor’s jocular style typified by a depiction of Barnett as a quiz show contestant struggling with questions about uranium mining. In an interesting parallel with the federal campaign, Labor’s ads seem tailored for FM whereas the Liberals sound like they made theirs with talkback in mind.

• Ian Taylor, who led the Opposition for a year between the departure of Carmen Lawrence in 1994 and the brief tenure of Jim McGinty, has been expelled from the ALP for endorsing independent Murchison-Eyre MP John Bowler in his campaign for Kalgoorlie. Bowler was one of the four ministers whose scalps were claimed by the Corruption and Crime Commission’s inquiries.

• The Western Australian Electoral Commission predictably dismissed a Liberal complaint against Labor ads attacking Barnett over “nuclear waste”, as its power lies only over material involving “the casting of the elector’s vote”. The complaint nonetheless succeeded in communicating the party’s grievance through news coverage.

• Labor’s big ticket campaign launch item of a rail line to Ellenbrook no doubt has a lot to recommend it on policy grounds, but it inevitably invites speculation as to the government’s electoral objectives. The line will serve the electorates of Midland, Morley, Bassendean, West Swan and Swan Hills. Notwithstanding the complicated state of play in Morley, the only one of the aforementioned which is on the electoral front line is the latter. The Liberals matched the promise in such short order that there was speculation Labor had locked in the policy to pre-empt them.

• Another interestingly targeted policy is Labor’s promise to change the public transport fare structure to make fares cheaper in the outer suburbs. This benefits a wide arc of marginal seats from Ocean Reef on the northern coast through Joondalup, Wanneroo and Swan Hills to Darling Range.

WA election minus five days (Labor minus eight seats)

The Poll Bludger’s WA election guide has been reupholstered with predictions, campaign updates and a Legislative Council page. The upshot of the first of these is that I’m tipping Labor to emerge one by-election defeat from oblivion, with 30 seats out of 59. Predicted Liberal gains are Kingsley, Darling Range, Bunbury, Collie-Preston, Ocean Reef, Riverton, North West and Swan Hills, with no corresponding losses (such as Albany or Geraldton). Labor’s victory would thus depend on Jandakot, beneficiary of the Mandurah rail line and Fiona Stanley Hospital, and Joondalup, where a 4.4 per cent margin looks a bridge too far against a sitting member, despite talk of the northern suburbs as “tiger country”. However, it should be noted that further losses in Forrestfield, Southern River and Mount Lawley are not out of the question (the latter was a target of Labor’s campaign launch promise to build a rail line to Ellenbrook, reportedly pre-empting an announcement from the Liberals); that Morley turned up a surprise poll result on the weekend; and that Kimberley can be very unpredictable. I’m tipping the Liberals to lose Moore and Blackwood-Stirling to the Nationals, if indeed the latter can be said to be a Liberal rather than a Nationals seat; Janet Woollard to retain Alfred Cove, though not with great confidence; and Bill Marmion to recover Nedlands from Liberal-turned-independent member Sue Walker. That leaves the Liberals with 23 seats, the Nationals with four and two independents.

The upper house looms as a potential bonanza for the heretofore unrepresented religious parties: my guess is two seats for Family First, 15 for Labor, 14 for Liberal, two for the Nationals and three for the Greens. I expect Liberal-turned-Family First member Anthony Fels to win a seat in Agricultural along with two Liberal, two Labor and one Nationals, although Fels’ place could be taken by Mac Forsyth of the Christian Democratic Party if One Nation falls hard enough. I’m also tipping former Liberal deputy leader Dan Sullivan to win a seat in South West, joining two Labor, two Liberal and one Greens member, although the picture here is complicated – it could be right four, left two rather than three-all, and the Greens, Family First and Nationals are all in the picture. My tip in Mining and Pastoral is three Labor, two Liberal and one Nationals, though Labor’s third seat could go to the Greens and there could be a third Liberal instead of a National. In the metro area, I’m tipping three Labor, two Liberal and one Greens in East Metropolitan (it’s not impossible the latter seat could go to the CDP); three Liberal, two Labor and one Greens in North Metropolitan; and three-all in South Metropolitan.

Here are some of the electorate-level campaign updates from the election guide:

Collie-Preston (Labor 0.9%): Early in the campaign, Grahame Armstrong of the Sunday Times reported that Steve Thomas had “spoken in favour” of mineral sands miner Cable Sands while renting a house from them for $30 a week, which Thomas argued was all it was worth. Paul Murray of The West Australian claimed Labor had planted the story with Armstrong, a one-time press secretary to Geoff Gallop, whom he accused of running it even after it had been “factually destroyed by a letter from the company supplied to the newspaper before publication”.

Riverton (Labor 2.1%): The West Australian reported on Saturday that Labor was making a “last-ditch attempt” to hold the seat by promising the Leach Highway truck ban promised in 2005 would be fully operational by the end of the year. At present the government has implemented only the “stage” of the ban, targeting trucks longer than 19 metres. Riverton has been described during the campaign by party sources as “of concern” to Labor, and “in play”.

Bunbury (Labor 0.9%) and Albany (Liberal 2.3%): The Liberals have targeted two marginals in one hit with their promise to spend $225 million building a natural gas pipeline linking Bunbury and Albany.

And here’s me in Friday’s Crikey. An important point missing from the article below is that the Buswell website was developed by Labor while he was still leader – their error was in failing to recognise that the attack looked disproportionate after he’d quit.

With so much ammunition available to both sides, it comes as no surprise to find the WA election campaign dominated by negative advertising. Liberal mailouts have depicted Alan Carpenter projecting Brian Burke’s shadow onto a wall, while the six radio ads on the party’s website feature one Whingeing Wendy after another (in an interesting inversion of the situation in the party room, two-thirds of the voices are female).

For a party caught on the hop by an early election after a term consumed by leadership turmoil, such tactics might have been an operational necessity. The positive side of the Liberal campaign has won few admirers: policy announcements have been either re-heated or half-baked, with this week’s showpiece tax cut package criticised as both too modest and lacking in detail. The one television ad promoting Colin Barnett’s leadership qualities is either a conscious attempt to project an image of bland competence, or it indicates an even greater personality deficit than first feared. The party’s newer ad is more consistent with the tenor of the campaign, inviting viewers to spend a silent 30 seconds trying to think of “three good things Alan Carpenter’s Labor has done in eight years of boom”.

However, it’s been Labor’s tactics that have emerged as an election issue as the race enters the home stretch. On Wednesday the party launched an online dirt sheet called, focusing on the colourful life and times of former leader and current Shadow Treasurer Troy Buswell. This was hardly the first time a made-to-order website had been used to attack political opponents, or even enemies within (most memorably in the case of the anti-Ted Baillieu website that was traced to Victorian Liberal Party headquarters). A Liberal-authorised federal election site called continues to greet visitors with tales of “union thuggery”, “dirty tricks” and “Labor’s union links”, along with audio of former ALP member Dean Mighell employing intemperate language while addressing ETU members.

Part of the problem with Labor’s intensely personal attack on Buswell was that it arrived as concern over the campaign’s increasingly negative tone was ready to crystallise. It took only a short sharp talk radio backlash for Alan Carpenter to order that the site be pulled, with state secretary and safe seat candidate Bill Johnston sent out to face the music from a hostile Russell Woolf on ABC Radio. It was a different story earlier on in the campaign, when Labor took advantage of the Liberals’ unpreparedness to saturate Olympics schedules with ads promoting the government’s past achievements and future plans. With the website episode threatening to reinforce perceptions of arrogance and cynicism, it might be time for Labor to dust off its positive message in the final week of the campaign, shop-worn though it may be.

Westpoll: 54-46 to Labor; Galaxy: 51-49 to Liberal

A bizarre set of results today from Westpoll, the headline figure showing Labor leading 54-46 on two-party preferred from primary vote figures of Labor 42 per cent, Liberal 35 per cent, Nationals 7 per cent and Greens 10 per cent. Alan Carpenter leads Colin Barnett as preferred leader 51 per cent to 28 per cent. If you believe the Westpoll results, you must conclude that Troy Buswell’s departure has been an unmitigated disaster for the Liberals, sending them from a 51-49 lead to a 50.2-49.8 deficit at the start of campaign to the fiasco indicated by the current figures. Stranger still are two individual seat polls. The Liberals are apparently set to seize the unwinnable seat of Morley, where they lead 51-49 from primary votes of 38 per cent for stop-gap Liberal candidate Ian Britza, 35.5 per cent for Labor’s Reece Whitby and 12 per cent for independent incumbent John D’Orazio. The point of this was to assess D’Orazio’s chances of retaining the seat after breaking with the ALP, and they were obviously not expecting such a result. In Nedlands, independent member Sue Walker languishes on 16 per cent compared with 47.5 per cent for Liberal candidate Bill Marmion and 23 per cent Labor’s Colin Cochrane. No sample size is provided for any of the three polls – we can guess the main poll was about 400, in keeping with the usual Westpoll practice.

UPDATE: Reader SeanofPerth reports a Galaxy poll of 800 voters in tomorrow’s Sunday Times shows the Liberals 51-49 ahead. This would be Galaxy’s first ever poll of Western Australian voting intention, which you can make something of if you like. The Liberal-Nationals vote is 46 per cent against 39 per cent for Labor. Report here; further results here.

Half-time report: lower house

With the Olympics out of the way and less than a fortnight to go until polling day, the Western Australian election campaign is on in earnest. The official Liberal campaign launch was held on Sunday – footage of Colin Barnett’s speech can be viewed here, but it doesn’t convey the highly Americanised razzamatazz that dominated the vision on the television news. The Liberals finally have their first television ads in business: this remarkably drab positive effort, and a rather more innovative negative one. There have also been two further additions to the party’s roster of radio advertising, both dealing with law and order, making for six negative ads out of six. Labor’s campaign has gotten equally grim after a sunny start.

On Monday night came the low-rating televised leaders debate, hosted by Channel Nine, in which 30 of the 50 audience members drove the worm and delivered a verdict of 17-13 in favour of Alan Carpenter. The worm tracked fairly evenly, favouring Barnett for the first half of the debate and Carpenter for the second. Carpenter got good responses on “left” issues including privatisation, GM food bans and uranium mining, and when he pointed out he had called on the Salaries Tribunal not to increase MPs’ pay. He also drew blood when criticising the Liberals’ lack of women candidates, and when saying they had done “nothing to prepare themselves for government”. However, he did best of all when responding to moderator Dixie Marshall’s silly question about the contenders’ greatest moral failings with a joke about the Fremantle Dockers, and proclaiming his love for Western Australia. Barnett did well invoking the shadow of Brian Burke and WA Inc, but Carpenter also succeeded in drawing Noel Crichton-Browne into the issue, and Barnett appeared to indulge in an impromptu strengthening of his position on banning cabinet members from dealing with him. Other good responses for Barnett related to housing, education and teachers’ pay, but the worm headed south when Troy Buswell was raised. Barnett did notably less well than Carpenter responding to Marshall’s concluding question.

Last week’s expectations management exercise by Labor has succeeded in talking down the Centrebet odds on a Liberal win from $4.25 to $3.50, but one news outlet that has loudly refused to play along is The West Australian. On Saturday, the paper reported that notwithstanding reports of five marginal seats showing a 7 per cent swing to the Liberals, “Labor insiders also said the polling indicated the swing would be reduced to a situation where Labor would be returned to government but would lose some seats”. The paper’s Robert Taylor had this to say:

With nothing apparently working, Labor got desperate towards the end of the week, claiming that its own polling showed the Liberals would win the election if it were held this weekend. That’s cynical. What Labor didn’t say was that although close, the polling still suggests the Government would be returned by a reduced majority and with two weeks to go, nightly tracking polls show the swing to the Liberals slowing not gathering pace.

The West sounds confident enough that we can probably infer Labor’s tracking poll paints a similar picture to last fortnight’s Westpoll and Newspoll, perhaps slightly worse than the latter.

UPDATE (28/8/08): Robert Taylor reports: “Nightly tracking polls conducted by both parties show the swing to the Liberals is down to around two per cent, half of what they need to claim government. The Liberals are tracking voters in eight marginal seats, Labor is polling in five But both see the same trend, and it’s a win to Labor … Labor sources said they expected losses to be contained to three or four seats, two of which, Darling Range and Bunbury, are held by Liberal incumbents anyway because of the one vote, one value redistribution. And Labor still has not given up on Albany and Geraldton, held by incumbent Government MPs Peter Watson and Shane Hill. Albany is said to have swung towards the Government in recent days. Both sides believe the Liberals have something of a stranglehold on Kingsley, held by Labor’s Judy Hughes. Ocean Reef, Collie-Preston and Riverton remain in play.

However, the momentum might yet continue to build: the big business “500 Club” has announced it will donate $400,000 to the party’s marginal seats campaign, bridging what was reportedly a massive gap between the parties’ war chests.

Now for an overview of the situation in those marginals, bearing in mind that a net loss of nine seats will cost Labor its majority and most likely produce a minority Liberal government. Let’s start with the seats ABC state political editor Peter Kennedy might have had in mind when he mused on last night’s television news: “Could it be that sitting Labor members have opted for the safer ends of their electorates and left the marginal seats for rookies?”.

Ocean Reef (Labor 1.6%): Labor’s members for Mindarie and Joondalup, John Quigley and Tony O’Gorman, would have done their party a very good turn if they had abandoned their existing seats in the crucial outer northern suburbs to tackle this less attractive new prospect. The seat has instead emerged as a contest between two newcomers, both aged 28: Labor’s Louise Durack, a social worker and organisational officer with the locally based Women’s Healthworks who was hand-picked by Alan Carpenter, and Liberal candidate Albert Jacob, a Joondalup councillor. Labor sources said they were “concerned” about the seat on the basis of marginal seat polling.

Mount Lawley (Labor 5.8%): Nearly two-thirds of the voters in this new seat come from abolished Yokine: perhaps Labor would have done well to keep its member Bob Kucera on board rather than dump him for preselection, leading him to quit the party and initially threaten to run as an independent (he has instead decided to retire). The seat will instead be contested for Labor by one of the highest-profile of Alan Carpenter’s hand-picked candidates, Karen Brown, former deputy editor of The West Australian and more recently director of former Labor MP John Halden’s lobbying firm Halden Burns. The Liberal candidate is Perth deputy lord mayor Michael Sutherland.

Jandakot (Labor 3.6%): The bulk of this new southern suburbs seat comes from the Liberal-held seats of Murdoch (which has been succeeded by Bateman, to be contested by Christian Porter) and Serpentine-Jarrahdale (whose Liberal member Tony Simpson will contest the radically redrawn Darling Range). Labor’s strength comes from smaller areas in the west of the electorate which have been acquired from the very safe seats of Cockburn and Willagee, both of which have maintained their identity. The member for the former is Energy Minister Fran Logan, who seems an unlikely vote-winner – he has been dubbed the “invisible man” of the campaign due to Labor’s unwillingness to bring him along to such events as yesterday’s wind power photo op in Albany. The member for the latter is Alan Carpenter. Should the Premier have boldly led by example, John Howard-style?

The following are must-wins for the Liberals in the metropolitan area:

Kingsley (Labor 0.0%): The northern suburbs seat of Kingsley was Labor’s only gain of the 2005 election, and had never been held by the party previously. It might be thought that Judy Hughes’s win for Labor was a one-off influenced by the fact that Liberal candidate Colin Edwardes was the husband of outgoing Liberal member Cheryl Edwardes, and also by the candidacy of Marie Evans (whose husband Richard Evans was member for the corresponding federal seat of Cowan from 1996 to 1998) under the “Community 1st” banner, reflecting local divisions in the Liberal Party. Hughes also suffered from the redistribution, which wiped out her 0.8 per cent margin by moving the electorate’s lowest-income suburb of Warwick into the safe Labor seat of Girrawheen. As part of last week’s campaign to dampen expectations, Labor claimed it had given up on the seat.

Riverton (Labor 2.1%): Labor member Tony McRae won the seat from Court government Workplace Relations Minister Graham Kierath in 2001 and survived an avalanche of bad press from The West Australian in the final days of the 2005 campaign, which memorably gave Colin Barnett’s costings debacle second billing to the news that Labor was running a dummy candidate. McRae suffered a more substantial setback during the current term when he was sacked as Environment Minister over dealings with Brian Burke’s lobbying colleague Julian Grill. The Liberal candidate is Mike Nahan, American-accented former executive director of the Institute of Public Affairs. Expect to hear a lot from Labor in the coming week about yesterday’s call from the IPA for privatisation of electricity generation and passenger rail networks. A Westpoll survey of 400 voters conducted during the first week of the campaign had the Liberals leading 51-49.

Swan Hills (Labor 3.6%): Labor’s outgoing 31-year-old member Jaye Radisich reportedly has ambitions for a future career in federal politics, but she might have lost a few friends in the party through her determination to abandon this crucial marginal seat in favour of its safe-as-houses neighbour West Swan. Alan Carpenter was determined that West Swan should go to his chief-of-staff Rita Saffioti, and Radisich quit rather than stay put. The seat will be contested for Labor by upper house MP Graham Giffard, who loomed as a potential loser in the game of musical chairs resulting from the reduction of North Metropolitan region from seven members to six. The Liberal candidate is Swan City councillor Frank Alban. Labor says its internal polling has it feeling “concerned” about the seat.

Now the must-win non-metropolitan seats:

Collie-Preston (Labor 0.9%): Collie-Preston merges Labor-held Collie-Wellington with Liberal-held Capel, and has thus emerged as a head-to-head contest between respective sitting members Mick Murray and Steve Thomas. As the map on my electorate page demonstrates, it is strikingly polarised between the intensively Labor-voting coal-mining town of Collie and the smaller town of Allanson to the west, and the strongly conservative agricultural shires of Capel, Dardanup and Donnybrook-Balingup. A former president of the Collie Combined Coalmining Unions Council, Mick Murray was Labor’s best performing candidate at the 2005 election, picking up a 6.7 per cent swing in Collie-Wellington after gaining its predecessor seat of Collie in 2001. Analysis of booth results reveals that this swing was overwhelmingly concentrated in Collie itself, whose five booths swung to Murray by 12.6 per cent compared with 3.9 per cent elsewhere. It can thus be inferred that the Labor margin is boosted by Murray’s popularity with a very particular constituency that has no representation in those areas that were formerly in Capel, where Steve Thomas can instead expect a sophomore surge following his entry to parliament in 2005.

North West (Labor 3.1%): Previously known as North West Coastal, this seat now extends inland to take in the mining towns of Meekatharra and Cue along with the Murchison pastoral area, cutting the margin from 3.7 per cent to 3.1 per cent. However, of more concern to Labor is the departure of sitting member Fred Riebeling, who has been demonstrating his vote-winning ways ever since he won the Ashburton by-election in the dying days of the Lawrence government in 1992. Worse still, the Liberal candidate is Rod Sweetman, who represented the area as member for Ningaloo from 1996 until 2005, when the abolition of his seat had him hunting unsuccessfully for opportunities in Perth. Labor’s candidate is Vince Catania, who has been a member for the corresponding upper house region of Mining and Pastoral since the 2005 election, at which time he was reckoned to be an inner-city blow-in.

The following have been sent from one side of the pendulum to the other by the redistribution:

Darling Range (Labor 0.8%): This seat derives just 15 per cent of its voters from the existing seat of Darling Range, the real successor to which is Kalamunda, which will be contested by Darling Range MP John Day (it has a notional Liberal margin of 0.2 per cent, but the early campaign Westpoll gave John Day a 54-46 lead). The new Darling Range takes half its voters from abolished Serpentine-Jarrahdale, and will accordingly be contested for the Liberals by its sitting member Tony Simpson. Labor’s candidate is Lisa Griffiths, described by the local Comment News as “the only woman in a group of six scientists in WA specialising in electron microscopy”.

Bunbury (Labor 0.9%): It was long anticipated that Bunbury mayor John Castrilli would gain this seat for the Liberals at the 2005 election, but he ended up winning by just 103 votes. Being slightly bigger than the other main regional cities, not all of Bunbury was accommodated by the electorate under the old boundaries, the Labor-voting southern suburbs of Withers and Usher being in abolished Capel. The absorption of those areas has given Labor a 1.5 per cent boost, but the Liberals are reportedly very confident Castrilli should be able to make up the difference. Labor has nominated Peter MacFarlane, director of the Margaret River Regional Wine Centre and candidate for Forrest at last year’s federal election.

Albany (Liberal 2.3%): The other two regional city seats have gone the other way from Bunbury because they have had to make up the numbers from surrounding rural seats. In both cases this meant territory where Labor had played dead to finish behind the Nationals, ensuring they defeated the Liberals on their preferences. Labor thus has a better chance of retaining the seats than the notional margins suggest, as indicated by Alan Carpenter’s visit yesterday to spruik renewable energy (which was reported thus on the front page of today’s West Australian). For their part, the Liberals are promising to build a natural gas pipeline between Bunbury and Albany under a public-private partnership. Labor’s sitting member Peter Watson faces sports physiotherapist Andrew Partington for a second successive election.

Geraldton (Liberal 3.5%): A similar story to Albany, Geraldton was won by Labor’s Shane Hill in 2001 and has moved to the Liberal column after expanding into rural territory from the abolished Nationals seat of Greenough. The Liberal candidate is local farmer Ian Blayney.


Joondalup (Labor 3.6%): Changes of government in 1983, 1993 and 2001 all involved mass transfers of seats in Perth’s volatile northern suburbs mortgage belt, with Tony O’Gorman gaining Joondalup for Labor on the latter occasion. The Liberals would surely be hoping to gain this seat if they wish for a repeat in 2008, but their candidate Milly Zuvela has a remarkably low profile, notwithstanding a stint on Wanneroo City Council late last decade.

Forrestfield (Labor 4.5%): A new seat with no sitting member, so the margin might flatter Labor, who have nominated Andrew Waddell, a former official with the Centre faction Transport Workers Union who has worked since 1999 with the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission. Here too the Liberals have nominated a candidate without much of a profile, school deputy principal Nathan Morton.

Southern River (Labor 5.1%): This electorate has been substantially redrawn, the existing seat providing it with only 56 per cent of its voters (the rest come from abolished Serpentine-Jarrahdale), so perhaps sitting member Paul Andrews is not as secure as his margin makes him appear. The Liberal candidate is the Reverend Peter Abetz, pastor of the Christian Reformed Church of Willetton and brother of Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz.

Kimberley (Labor 6.3%): I was tempted to put the 5.2 per cent Liberal swing at the 2005 election down to the one-off of Colin Barnett’s canal proposal exciting local hopes of job creation (it was first won for the Liberals in the late sixties due to the local popularity of the Ord River scheme boondoggle). However, a reader has suggested the snap election announcement has left Aboriginal voters in newly acquired Halls Creek and surrounding communities off the rolls, making the seat potentially of interest.

Kalgoorlie (Liberal 7.2%): A very rough roughie maybe, but worth a mention due to the departure of Matt Birney who won the seat for the Liberals for the first time in 2001 and picked up a 7.5 per cent swing against the trend of the 2005 election. The Liberals have nominated 27-year-old pastoralist Nat James, said to have been a surprise preselection winner over Kalgoorlie-Boulder Chamber of Commerce president Guy Brownlee; Labor’s Mathew Cuomo has rather more of a profile as a local lawyer. The race is further complicated by the entry of John Bowler, the Labor-turned-independent member for abolished Murchison-Eyre who remains popular locally despite being sacked as a cabinet minister in 2007 over dealings with Brian Burke and Julian Grill (the latter of whom preceded him as member for Murchison-Eyre). Local observers also aren’t writing off Nationals candidate Tony Crook.