North West Central by-election live

Preview and live commentary of today’s North West Central state by-election in Western Australia.

Click here for full North West Central by-election results updated live.

Live commentary
8pm. All the booths are in on the primary vote and now, in one great flood, on two-party preferred as well, and we also have 413 postals and 381 pre-polls (the latter on primary vote only as I type). Raw figures are as good as projections at this stage, and they show the Nationals winning by a margin of 8% to 9%. However, their primary vote has not improved, which you might say is despite the absence of a Labor candidate or because of the absence of Vince Catania. The Liberals can take a certain amount of heart from the fact that their primary vote is up from 7.9% to 25.8%, but again, that may just reflect the fact that a lot of conservative support was hitherto locked up with Catania. Similarly, the Greens are up from 4.1% to 14.3%, but with a 40.2% Labor vote last time up for grabs, that’s not necessarily a particularly outstanding result.

7.21pm. The veil has now been lifted on two-party numbers, for which we have results from four booths. They suggest a roughly 60-40 split in preferences between the Nationals and the Liberals, which is similar to what happened when they finished first and second in 2013. This means the Liberals have no chance of winning from second on the primary vote in a context where they have no chance of finishing first, hence the probability dial hitting 100% for the Nationals.

7.05pm. Now the Kalbarri booth is in, with an above-par result for the Nationals. My probability gauge keeps getting stuck for some reason — it’s still on 98.0% when it should be at pretty much 100%.

7.02pm. The Exmouth booth and, to a lesser extent, Carnarvon Woolshed have almost doubled the vote count, giving the Greens a boost at the expense of the Nationals. In two-party terms though the picture is as it was in that the Nationals are well ahead of the Liberals and I expect them to do better on preferences.

6.53pm. I think that problem will fix with the next update, so consider me just about calling it for the Nationals. I’d forgotten that the WAEC has a peculiarity of not reporting two-party numbers until it’s confident it’s picked the right candidates, which is why we’re not seeking any action yet on that score.

6.46pm. My probability reading is stuck on 72.5% for the Nationals when it should be 98.0%. Looking into it.

6.41pm. We’ve got a relatively big booth in Onslow Primary School — all of 151 votes. The big picture is that the Nationals are down a little on the primary vote while the Liberals are up around 20% on their single figure result; that the Nationals retain a handy primary vote lead in a context where they’re likely to do better than the Liberals on preferences; and that we still don’t have any two-party numbers.

6.40pm. There’s an issue in the WAEC’s data feed for the Coral Bay booth, which is missing the line that’s supposed to record the Liberal result.

6.35pm. A sixth booth in now — probably Meekatharra Shire Hall, because that’s the best one for the Nationals and the dial just moved in their favour.

6.32pm. Problem fixed. Five booths in now, one of them small and four of them tiny, and while my speculative preference estimates point to a Nationals winning margin of 5% to 6%, there are far too few votes for me to call it.

6.23pm. Now we’ve got two booths in, the follow-up being 102 votes from Carnarvon Community College. The Nationals are well down on last time, but still with just over 50% of the primary vote. There is a problem with my two-party projection though, which I’ll look into.

6.22pm. In any case, I can tentatively say that my results facility is working, and that it’s coming through with the goods quicker than the WAEC site.

6.20pm. We’ve got 11 votes in from Wiluna Remote Community School. Presumably the fact that none of them are for the Liberals explains why my projection is sticking with 50-50.

6pm. Polls have closed. Now to see if my live results page is going to work. Results should come in reasonably shortly given there are some very small booths involved, although twelve candidates on the ballot paper should slow things up a bit. The WAEC will provide updates at leisurely five minute intervals.

Preview
Today is the day of Western Australia’s state by-election for North West Central, resulting from the retirement of Nationals MP Vince Catania, which likely looms as a contest between the Nationals and Liberals in the absence of a Labor candidate, albeit that there are twelve candidates in all. My own perspective on the matter is laid out in my by-election guide. Note that a mere 7741 formal votes were cast in 2021: not only does the seat have markedly below average enrolment due to the “large district allowance” that applies to seats of more than 100,000 square kilometres, it also records unusually low turnout, which is sure to be lower still at a by-election.

My live results page can be found here, awaiting numbers that will start to come through from 6pm. Given that Antony Green has “tickets to the Swans versus Collingwood AFL match … so won’t be able to publish any results until I get home from the match”, I think I can get away with saying that my results facility and accompanying commentary will be the best available.

My results display will feature two-party swing figures working off a rather artificial set of Nationals-versus-Liberal numbers from last year based on the assumption that Labor and minor party preferences would, if distributed, have split between the two in the same proportion as in 2013, when Labor obligingly finished third. On this basis, the Liberals need a 20.5% swing to poach the swing from the Nationals, having polled but 7.9% at the March 2021 election compared with 39.7% for the Nationals (and 40.2% for Labor).

My guess would be that that’s not going to happen: homeless Labor voters are probably more likely to swing behind the Nationals candidate Merome Beard, proprietor of the Port Hotel, which is by some distance the best pub in Carnarvon (the one that was infamouly run by Wilson Tuckey back in the day). Should Liberal candidate Will Baston pull off an upset, the Nationals and Liberals will be deadlocked at three seats apiece in the Legislative Assembly, raising the question of whether Nationals leader Mia Davies will retain the status of Opposition Leader.

Hawks and doves (open thread)

A new poll from the Australia Institute poses many a hard question on the potential for conflict with China.

The Australian has today published a Newspoll result of state voting intention in Victoria, which I have added as an introductory note to my earlier post covering general electoral developments in the state. I am not sure what the deal is with Newspoll’s federal polling – plainly it has not returned to its earlier schedule of a poll every three weeks, as there would otherwise have been one on Monday.

We do have two new attitudinal polls from the Australia Institute, one posing an array of stimulating questions on the potential for conflict with China. This encompassed both an Australian sample of 1003 and a Taiwanese sample of 1002, the survey work being conducted by international market research firm Dynata.

Among many other things, the Australian end of the survey found 47% expecting a Chinese armed attack on Australia either soon (9%) or “sometime” (38%), with only 19% opting for never and 33% uncommitted. Twenty-one per cent felt Australia would be able to defend itself from China without international assistance, compared with 60% who thought otherwise, and 57% anticipate such support would be forthcoming from the United States compared with 11% who didn’t and 19% who opted for “it depends”. Thirty-five per cent would back the US and Australia to win such a conflict compared with 8% for lose and 26% for a draw of some description.

Thirty-seven per cent felt the Australian people would be prepared to go to war if China threatened military action against Australia, effectively equal to the 38% who thought otherwise. Twenty-six per cent were prepared for Australia to go to war to help Taiwan gain independence compared with 33% who weren’t and 41% for uncommitted. Framed a little differently, 14% strongly agreed and 23% less strongly agreed that Australia should “send its defence forces to Taiwan to fight for their freedom … if China incorporated Taiwan”, compared with 20% for disagree and 9% for strongly disagree.

The Taiwanese end of the survey is beyond this site’s scope, thought it’s interesting to note that 41% felt optimistic with respect to the future for Taiwan compared with 40% for neutral and only 20% for pessimistic. The survey was conducted between August 13 and 16 – Nancy Pelosi’s visit was on August 2 and China’s military exercises followed from August 4 to 7.

A second report from the Australia Institute provides results of a poll conducted back in April on the seemingly less pressing subject of “wokeness”, a concept that meant nothing to 43% of those surveyed, ranging from only 22% of those aged 18 to 29 to 59% of those aged 60 and over. Forty-nine per cent of the former cohort owned up to being woke, decreasing with arithmetic precision to 9% for the latter, while around 30% for each of the five age cohorts identified as “not woke”. Interestingly, Coalition and Labor voters produced similar results, with Greens and One Nation voters deviating in the manner you would expect. The poll was conducted from April 5 to 8 from a sample of 1003, so the sub-sample sizes for the results cited above are not great, however intuitively likely the results might be.

Also:

Anthony Galloway of the Sun-Herald identifies possible successors to Scott Morrison in Cook: Mark Speakman, moderate-aligned state Attorney-General and member for Cronulla; Melanie Gibbons, state member for Holsworthy, who unsuccessfully sought preselection for the Hughes at the federal election; Carmelo Pesce, the mayor of Sutherland Shire; and Alex Cooke, identified only as a “party member”.

• The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has called for submissions to its inquiry into the 2022 federal election. Matters specifically touched up on by the terms of reference include political donation and truth-in-advertising laws, enfranchisement of New Zealand citizens living in Australia and “proportional representation of the states and territories in the parliament”, the latter seemingly referring to the possibility of adding extra seats for the territories in the Senate.

• The Australian Parliamentary Library has published a “quick guide” on the technicalities of when the next federal election might be held, together with a handy calendar showing when state and local elections are due through to 2006.

• No fewer than twelve candidates have nominated for Western Australia’s North West Central by-election on September 17, with Labor not among them, for a seat with only 11,189 voters. As well as the Nationals and the Liberals, there are two candidates of the Western Australia Party, one being hardy perennial Anthony Fels, plus the Greens, One Nation, Legalise Cannabis, Liberal Democrats, No Mandatory Vaccination, the Small Business Party and two independents. My guide to the by-election can be found here.

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.

Monday miscellany (open thread)

Return of the vexed question of expelling elected members of parliament, an improbable set of state voting intention numbers from Victoria, and more.

I would guess that Newspoll will return on the eve of the resumption of the parliament, which is still three weeks away. This is an off week for Essential Research; there may be a Roy Morgan poll, or there may not. Until then:

• Kylea Tink, the newly elected teal independent member for North Sydney, says she believes a new federal integrity commission should have the power to sack parliamentarians for sufficiently serious breaches of a parliamentary code of conduct; David Pocock, newly independent Senator for the Australian Capital Territory, says he would have “real concerns about an unelected body being able to dismiss elected representatives”. The federal parliament denied itself of the power to expel representatives through legislation passed in 1987, such power only ever having been exercised in 1920, when Labor MP Hugh Mahon made “seditious and disloyal utterances” regarding British policy in Ireland. Mahon then re-contested his seat of Kalgoorlie but was narrowly defeated, which remains the only occasion of a government party winning a seat from the opposition at a by-election.

• If you can’t wait another three years for my 2025 federal election guide, Robin Visser offers an online geospatial tool for examining polling booth results at the recent federal election.

Victorian state news to go with that related in last week’s dedicated post on the subject:

• Roy Morgan has results of a “snap SMS poll” of state voting intention in Victoria, showing Labor with a rather inplausible two-party lead of 59.5-40.5 from primary votes of Labor 43.5%, Coalition 29.5%, Greens 12%, United Australia Party 2% and Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party 1%. The poll was conducted Thursday to Saturday from a sample of 1710. A similar poll in November produced the same two-party result.

• Morgan’s result is at odds with a detailed assessment of the state of play by pollster Kos Samaras, who expects Labor to struggle to maintain its majority in the face of four to five losses to the Liberals, two to the Greens and others yet to independents. However, it’s also “extremely difficult to see how the Coalition get anything north of 38 to 40 seats” in a chamber of 88.

• Jane Garrett, who held a seat in the Legislative Council for Eastern Victoria region, died on Saturday of breast cancer at the age of 49. Garrett moved to the chamber from the lower house seat of Brunswick at the 2018 election, which duly fell to the Greens. She resigned from cabinet in 2016 after a dispute with the United Firefighters Union in her capacity as Emergency Services Union brought her into conflict with Daniel Andrews. Garrett announced last December that she would retire at the election. Labor’s ticket in Eastern Victoria will be headed by incumbent Harriet Shing, who was last week promoted to cabinet, and Tom McIntosh, a former electrician and (at least as of 2019) electorate officer to federal Batman MP Ged Kearney, who is presumably well placed to fill Garrett’s casual vacancy in the interim.

Also:

• As detailed at length on my live commentary thread, South Australia’s Liberals copped a 6.0% swing in Saturday’s Bragg by-election to add to the 8.8% one they suffered at the March state election, leaving about 2% intact from a margin that was 17.4% after the 2018 election, and had never previously fallen below 12.8%. The next by-election off the rank is for the Western Australian state seat of North West Central, to be vacated with the retirement of Nationals member Vince Catania. The Nationals last week preselected Merome Beard, proprietor of Carnarvon’s Port Hotel, whose BLT comes strongly recommended. Labor is considered unlikely to field a candidate, but the Liberal state council voted last week to call for nominations.

By-elections three

A quick run through the three state by-elections shortly to be held in Liberal and Nationals seats in Labor-run states.

There are now three state by-elections on the way, one imminent, another three weeks away, and a third on a date yet to be determined. I have election guides for the first two of these, linked two below. In turn:

Callide. A by-election will be held for this rural seat in Queensland on Saturday to replace Liberal National Party member Colin Boyce, who has now gone federal as the member for the corresponding seat of Flynn. Labor has not gone the usual path of forfeiting a seat in which it has never been competitive, at least notionally setting up a contest between LNP candidate Bryson Head and Labor’s Bronwyn Dendle. However, there seems at least as much chance that final count will be between the LNP and One Nation, whose candidate Sharon Lohse achieved as much when she ran in 2017. Lohse was also the party’s candidate in Flynn at the recent federal election. For whatever reason, the party sat it out in the seat at the 2020 state election. Also in the field are Legalise Cannabis, Katter’s Australian Party and Animal Justice – but not the Greens, who tend not to trouble the scoreboard much in this part of the world.

Bragg. This blue-ribbon Adelaide seat goes to the polls on July 2 to choose a successor to former Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman, who displeased her party by pulling the plug on her political career shortly after the March election defeat. Here too Labor is gamely taking the field in a seat it has never held, but given the Liberals’ form in comparable seats at the federal election and its all-time low margin of 8.2% after the state election, it’s easier here to see why they might think it worth a roll of the dice. The Liberals could have had particular trouble if disgruntled political staffer Chelsey Potter had followed through on her threat to don the teal independent mantle, but it seems she was persuaded not to. The by-election thus pits Liberal candidate Jack Batty, who until recently worked at the High Commission in London, against Labor’s Alice Rolls, head of policy and strategy at the Australian Pro Bono Centre. The Greens and Family First have also announced candidates; nominations close on Friday.

North West Central. One of only six seats out of the 59 in Western Australia’s lower house not held by Labor, North West Central is shortly to be vacated with the retirement of Nationals member Vince Catania. Catania began his political career with Labor as a member of the Legislative Council in 2005, transferred to the Legislative Assembly in 2008, defected to the Nationals the following year and comfortably retained it through to 2021, when he held out by 1.7% against a swing of 8.4%, one of the lowest in the state. Although anything would seem possible given the loss of Catania’s personal vote, which is of particular significance in a seat where only 8000 voters were cast at the last election, the consensus seems to be that Labor will not field a candidate as it fears a backlash over its one-vote one-value reform to the Legislative Council, expects the seat to be abolished at the next redistribution and already has more MPs than it knows what to do with. The seat could potentially develop into a contest between the Nationals and the Liberals, but the odds on the latter would presumably be rather long.

Darling Range by-election live

Live coverage of the count for Western Australia’s Darling Range state by-election.

Final for Saturday. Some better results for Labor on pre-polls have brought the swing inside 10%. My own accounting of the results and swings can be found here.

8.24pm. Two booths are outstanding on the two-party vote, and with the writing well and truly on the wall, I won’t be waiting up for them. I’ve got the Liberal swing at 10.1%, which is a little down on where it was before, but still handsomely sufficient to account for the 5.8% margin. Other than Labor, the other losers are pollsters – ReachTEL was way off, and apparently there was a report this morning of Labor internal polling crediting Labor with 38% of the primary vote, which is 7% north of where they seem to have ended up.

7.57pm. All polling day booth results now in on the primary vote, Byford and Kwinana South doing nothing to disturb the overall picture. Still only eight booths in on two-party.

7.49pm. The biggest booth yet, Kelmscott Primary School, is round about par for the course.

7.47pm. Finally some two-party votes to play with: from seven booths, with an overall Liberal swing of 12.8%.

7.40pm. West Byford booth is consistent with the overall picture. We’ve also got a bunch of pre-polls and postals now, which are very slightly better for Labor than the polling booth votes.

7.34pm. Not sure where the numbers are, but Antony Green reports a 12.7% swing on two-party preferred from six booths counted out of 14, which is bigger than I’d figured.

7.27pm. Bedfordale and Mundijong booths maintain the overall picture of a double-digit drop in the Labor primary vote and only a slight improvement for the Liberals, with minor parties (not including One Nation and the Greens, who are static) soaking up the rest. The minor party vote is about evenly split between candidates of the left and the right, so presumably the primary vote will be a pretty good guide to the final outcome, and I’m projecting the Liberals will end up 4% in front (it’s 8% on the raw vote, but that’s because smaller rural booths have come in earlier than larger metropolitan ones). I’m not sure what’s going on with the two-party vote – I would certainly have expected to see quite a bit of it reported by now. There are four booths outstanding on the primary vote.

7.24pm. Roleystone Hall added, a slightly better result for Labor, but not enough to change the overall picture.

7.16pm. Mundaring Hall and Oakford are in, and Labor are still on track for a double-digit drop on the primary vote that could roughly be projected to give the Liberals a winning margin of maybe about 4%. Still no two-party results though, oddly.

7.12pm. Serpentine Primary and Picking Brook both in; the latter not bad for Labor, but the former has another double-digit swing on the primary vote and twice as big.

7.08pm. Big swing to Liberals at Marri Grove booth, so not looking good for Labor.

7.05pm. The non-major party vote is heavily right-of-centre, so Labor would want to be ahead on the primary vote, and I’m projecting that they won’t be.

7.04pm. Serpentine-Jarrahdale booth added, with nearly 1000 votes, and the primary swing vote against Labor is looking big enough now to be alarming for them. Still nothing on two-party preferred though.

6.59pm. I’m having trouble finding the error I thought I must be making, so it may just be a case of me and Antony doing things differently, and it generally being too early to tell.

6.53pm. It seems my projections are going awry, as Antony Green calculates a 7.6% primary vote swing to Liberal and minus 14.6% from Labor.

6.50pm. Another two smallish booths in: Armadale Primary and Bruno Gianetti Hall. Still looking close, but with a high combined non-major party vote, a lot will depend on preference flows we don’t know anything about yet.

6.42pm. Karragullen District Hall’s 234 votes in: Liberals up 3.3% on the primary vote, Labor down 7.2%. This suggests a very close result, but it is of course an extremely small booth.

6.32pm. I can’t quite get the formatting right, but my projections of the results can be found here. Unusually, we have 68 pre-poll votes in before anything else, which are impossible to booth-match. For what it’s worth, 28 of them are for Liberal and 19 for Labor.

6pm. Polls have closed. I will hopefully have tables presenting booth projected results by the time the first results are, which I’m guessing should be in about an hour, but I have a great many kinks to iron out before that can happen.

‘Twas the night before the Darling Range by-election

One last overview ahead of tomorrow’s Darling Range by-election in Western Australia.

Western Australia has its first state by-election involving both Labor and Liberal candidates tomorrow since the Peel by-election in 2007, at which, in a non-portent of things to come, the Labor government of Alan Carpenter picked up a rare pro-government swing. The circumstances this time around would not appear to be fortuitous for Labor, as the by-election was initiated by the resignation in disgrace of Barry Urban, who won the seat from Liberal incumbent Tony Simpson at the March 2017 state election by a margin of 5.8%, after a swing of 18.6%. This was the eighth highest swing of the election, making Darling Range the fourth safest seat lost to the Liberals and Nationals at the election.

Urban’s career unravelled last November when it emerged that a decoration he wore for police service overseas, which he originally claimed to have received for war crimes investigations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, had actually been bought online, and that two British universities he claimed had awarded him degrees had no record for him. He resigned from the ALP shortly after the story broke in November, and announced his resignation from parliament on May 7, a day before the parliament’s privileges committee was due to bring down a report on the matter. However, Labor’s troubles didn’t end there: a similar, though less severe, controversy would shortly engulf the candidate anointed by the party’s state executive as Urban’s successor: Colleen Yates, former chief executive of Regional Development Australia Perth. It shortly emerged that Yates had exaggerated her educational attainments on her LinkedIn profile, a misdemanour she could probably have glossed over under other circumstances, but fatal in the context of the by-election.

Labor promptly announced its new candidate would be Tania Lawrence, senior manager of global business integration at Woodside. The Liberal candidate is Alyssa Hayden, who held a Legislative Council seat in East Metropolitan region from 2008 to 2017, when she unexpectedly lost her seat to One Nation. Despite the seemingly ill portents for Labor, the one opinion poll of the campaign, from ReachTEL, credited Labor with a clear lead. My newly updated guide to the by-election can be viewed here.

ReachTEL: 54-46 to Labor in Darling Range

A week out from the McGowan government’s first electoral test in Western Australia, a new poll suggests Labor will do rather a lot better than they might have feared.

The West Australian had a ReachTEL poll yesterday of voting intention for next week’s state by-election in Darling Range, which Labor won by a 5.8% margin after an 18.9% swing at the state election last March, and which is now being vacated by Barry Urban after it emerged his CV had been littered with falsehoods. The result is remarkably strong for Labor, who hold a 54-46 lead on two-party preferred. The online report is a little vague on the primary vote, but it seems after exclusion of the 10% undecided that the primary vote for Labor candidate Tania Lawrence is little changed on the election result, while Liberal candidate Alyssa Hayden is up from 30.4% to around 34%. One Nation look to be around 10%, and the Greens on around 4%. More than half the respondents said Barry Urban’s resignation (and presumably also the first choice of Labor candidate, Colleen Yates, after it emerged she had exaggerated her educational attainments on her LinkedIn profile) would not affect their vote, with around a third saying they were less likely to vote Labor and 16% somehow registering that they were more likely to. The poll had 600 respondents; the field work data is not provided, but I’m assuming it was Thursday.