Vasse by-election live

Live coverage of Western Australia’s Vasse by-election, where the Nationals are vaguely hopeful of poaching Troy Buswell’s old seat from the Liberals.


The table below summarises the results for the Busselton booths, the non-Busselton booths, and the current total inclusive of postals and pre-polls with swings calculated off the final result from 2013.

Clearly Peter Gordon’s local recognition in Busselton stood him in very good stead, the increase in the Nationals’ vote being 10% higher than elsewhere. I don’t find it quite as easy to explain why the swing to the Greens was substantially larger outside Busselton – certainly not because of homeless Labor voters, there being quite a few more of them inside Busselton than out. The biggest swings to the Greens were in Dunsborough and Yallingup, which are chiefly notable for having a large number of surfers. So perhaps it reflects a hostile reaction to shark culling from those it presumes to protect. The Liberal vote also held up relatively well in these booths, with a smaller swing to the Nationals.

All told, the Liberal vote was entirely in line with what I’d been told during the week the party’s internal polling was saying. However, the Nationals did quite a bit better, and the Greens quite a bit worse. The Greens can and will point to the fact that their vote was up by 8%, but the absence of Labor means their 2013 result is not a realistic baseline. Their vote was below the 21.7% combined Labor and Greens vote from 2013, and they would have hoped for better than that. Of the other candidates, Rebels bikie identity did okay to score 4.4% (853 votes), and can draw some amusement from outpolling Australian Christians on 3.5% (680 votes), who had the advantage of the donkey vote. Teresa van Lieshout’s bikini-wearing wasn’t able to boost her any higher than 1.4% (265 votes).

Election night

9.37pm. Final 2PP for the night: Liberal 10,435 (53.45%), Nationals 9,088 (46.55%). The WAEC has published booth-level 2PP on its media feed but not its website, so Antony Green has those numbers and the WAEC site does not.

9.24pm. That tweet being, as you might have expected, a claim of victory. The pre-poll primary vote have been added to the WAEC site, and the 2PP will apparently show them breaking 56-44 to the Liberals. The final two-party preferred looks like it will be about 53-47.

9.15pm. 4750 pre-polls will shortly be added to the count, and indications are that they’re favourable to the Liberals. From the WA Liberal Party’s Twitter account: “With Vasse early in person votes counted, we will make an announcement shortly about the overall result of this by-election.”

7.58pm. The WAEC have blurted out a single two-party result in one hit, and it has the Liberals on 7855 (52.7%) and the Nationals on 7038 (47.3%). Which is closer than I was expecting at the start of proceedings, but no, as they say, cigar. Preferences split 67.3%-32.7% in favour of the Nationals, so I was right to think Warren-Blackwood wasn’t going to be much of a guide. We can still expect maybe 2000 pre-polls to come in this evening, and further postals over the coming days, but with the Liberal lead now established at 817 votes, the only issue is the size of the margin.

7.44pm. 1335 postals added, and the Liberals get 55.2% of them to 22.0% for the Nationals, which is obviously very good news for the Liberals. Now things start getting difficult in doing projections off the 2013 results, as there won’t be any absent votes and there were only 521 postal votes last time. So the raw primary votes are as good a guide as any, and they have the Liberals on 43.3%, which should be more than enough. But it would still be interesting to see some two-party results.

7.30pm. All booths now in. The last Busselton booth was very much like the earlier ones, so nothing I said in the previous entry seriously needs to be revised. Apparently we’ve still got some pre-polls and postals to come. More to the point, we still don’t have any two-party preferred results, apparently because the WAEC wanted to be sure who the top two candidates were before they proceeded. The preference flow is very much a wild card here, but it would have to be very strong indeed to give the Nationals a shot. They would also have to do well on pre-polls and postals. They’ve given it a good shake though, and defied Colin Barnett’s suggestion that the contest was in fact between the Liberals and the Greens.

7.23pm. Two big booths in from Busselton (quick count, BTW), and it’s now more interesting still. In Busselton itself, Liberal are down 19.4% and the Nationals are up 24.6%. My regionalised projection is 41.7% Liberal, 28.4% Nationals, 19.5% Greens. In neighbouring Warren-Blackwood last year, preferences only favoured the Nationals 54-46. If that’s any guide, the Liberals will still get home with a margin of 6%. However, my intuition is that the Nationals should do better than that.

7.15pm. Things have taken a turn for the interesting again with the first two Busselton results (if you count Vasse Primary School, which I do), together with Cowaramup. The Busselton booths have the Liberals down 18.2% and the Nationals up 23.9%. Based on a projection that gives appropriate weight to Busselton and non-Busselton results, I have the Liberals at 42.5%, the Nationals at 28.0% and the Greens at 19.4%. So the Nationals look set to clear the first hurdle of outpolling the Greens, although they would still have to do extremely well on preferences to be seriously in the hunt.

7.06pm. Yallingup and the two Dunsborough booths are now in, and while there’s still nothing from Busselton, I think we’re past the point that the Liberals are actually in danger. The booth-matched swing against them is about 7%, coming off a 2013 vote of 57%. The Nationals are up 14%, putting them on course for a bit over 21%, and the Greens are up 10%, suggesting they’ll get to about 20%.

6.59pm. Projecting booth swings on to the 2013 totals, I get 44.2% for the Liberals, 23.6% for the Nationals and 23.1% for the Greens — remembering that half the battle for the Nationals is to finish ahead of the Greens. However, it must also be remembered that we don’t have anything in yet from Busselton, and you would not intuitively expect the swings away from the Liberals to be of the size we’ve been getting from the rural booths, notwithstanding the size of Troy Buswell’s personal vote there.

6.57pm. Yallingup supports the trend of the huge swing being rurally specific: here the Nationals are up 11.6% and the Liberals down 6.1%. A great result here for the Greens, up 36.3%. Their overall swing on ordinary polling booths is 15.3% (UPDATE: Belated correction – those were their total votes, not their swings, which were actually 10.3% in Yallingup and 11.3% overall)

6.47pm. At Rosa Brook Hall, the Liberals and Nationals are both up by 9%, whereas the other three booths have the Liberals down by between 15.4% and 26.5%. So we may be seeing a big shift to the Nationals that’s specific to the more agricultural areas of the electorate.

6.45pm. Another two small booths, rural Carbunup and Rosa Brooks Hall just north of Margaret River, have slightly modified the situation, but in the ordinary polling booths so far there’s a 20.5% swing to the Nationals and a 21.3% swing away from the Liberals. If that’s maintained, it will be very close. But Busselton might well behave differently.

6.38pm. Very similar story at the similar booth of Yoorangillup Hall.

6.36pm. The first ordinary booth result is from rural Acton Park Hall, and while it’s only 249 votes, it’s very interesting: the Nationals vote is up from 6.1% to 35.3%, and the Liberals are down from 75.4% to 51.0%. If those swings are in any way reflected in Busselton, we’ll have a contest.

6.24pm. 118 Special Institutions and Hospitals votes are in. These were unusually strong for Labor at the election, so Liberals, Nationals and Greens are all up. However, the Liberals are up most of all, by 14.1%, which would be very encouraging for them.

6pm. Polls have closed, and since a few of the booths are of a small and rural nature, we would should get our first results in reasonably shortly.

Vasse by-election: October 18

A brief introduction to Saturday’s by-election to fill the vacancy caused by Troy Buswell’s resignation from the WA state seat of Vasse, which looms as a contest between the Liberals and the Nationals.

Western Australia’s Vasse by-election will be held on Saturday, to choose a replacement for troubled former Treasurer Troy Buswell. In the absence of a Labor candidate, the by-election looms as a contest between the Liberals and Nationals in which the Liberals start short-priced favourites, having outpolled the Nationals 57.3% to 7.3% at the March 2013 state election. Curious as it may seem to outsiders though, Buswell did have a very strong personal vote in his home base of Busselton especially, and the Nationals had no cause to mount a strong campaign against him. This time the Nationals are targeting the seat with a fair amount of gusto, and at the very least it will be interesting to see the kind of inroads they can make. In the last two elections before Buswell’s arrival on the scene in 2005, the Nationals polled just over 23%, having a locally well-connected candidate in Beryle Morgan, who was Buswell’s predecessor as Busselton shire president. Morgan made waves at the time by expressing her admiration for Pauline Hanson, and had views to match on immigration, foreign aid and public displays of affection between gay people.

The electorate draws around two-thirds of its voters from Busselton, from which it extends westwards along the Geographe Bay coast to Dunsborough and Cape Naturaliste, then south of the cape along Caves Road to encompass Yallingup and Gracetown. Outside of Busselton, the voter base is roughly evenly divided between the Caves Road coast, which is an extension of the Margaret River region in terms of being noted for tourism, surf beaches and viticulture; and more conventionally conservative beef and dairy farming territory further inland. Support for the Greens in the former of these regions has approached 20% in recent elections, while being less than half that in Busselton. The Nationals, predictably enough, are strongest in the latter area. Troy Buswell’s vote was 7% higher in Busselton than the Liberals managed at the federal election, but slightly lower in the Caves Road region.

The Labor primary vote last year was a meagre 12.4%, so their absence from proceedings this time around is a fairly minor factor. Presumably though the resurgent Greens can expect to benefit; beyond that, the main question is how much of the vote the Nationals can secure.

Candidates in ballot paper order:

Wayne Barnett (Australian Christians). Works in horticulture and a regular candidate for the party regionally.

Peter Gordon (Nationals). Owner of the Equinox café on the Busselton foreshore, along with a beach bar and restaurant at the town’s Broadwater resort. Also a former president of the Busselton Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Peter Johnson (Independent). Breaking the election candidate mould somewhat, Johnson is a former state president and life member of the Rebels Motorcycle Club.

Libby Mettam (Liberal). A former Channel Nine and ABC journalist and media adviser to South West Liberal MLC Barry House, who won preselection without opposition.

Michael Baldock (Greens). A structural engineer, and also president of Dunsborough Primary School parents and citizens.

Teresa van Lieshout (Independent). A recurring independent candidate who also ran for One Nation in 2005, and was initially endorsed as the Palmer United candidate for Fremantle at last year’s federal election, before her stern views on asylum seekeers caused a falling out with the party. Van Lieshout caught the feel of the electorate pretty well by donning a bikini and going fishing for her campaign promotional video.

Armadale by-election live

# % Swing 2PP
Buti (ALP) 9927 57.9% 1.8% 71.0%
Van Burgel (CDP) 3525 20.6% 13.2% 29.0%
Tucak (IND) 1484 8.7%
Davies (GRN) 2200 12.8% 2.5%
Informal 960 5.3% -0.6%
Booths counted (out of 12): 12
Counted (% of enrolment): 74.4%
Turnout (% of 2008 vote): 92.0%

8.00pm. Special Institutions and Hospitals now added. Two-candidate preferred count now at 13,027, against 17,136 primary votes counted.

7.45pm. Grovelands now added.

7.42pm. Pardon me, there is still an ordinary polling booth outstanding: Grovelands Primary School.

7.37pm. 3933 two-party votes have now been added, but booth details are not available. Labor looking good for a higher two-party vote as well as primary vote. Comparing a two-party Labor-versus-Liberal result from 2008 with a Labor-versus-CDP result from today is of course not terribly meaningful, but the party should be able to persuade the media otherwise.

7.34pm. The last “proper” booth, Gwynne Park Primary School, has been added, as have 1311 pre-polls.

7.30pm. Armadale and Westfield Park primary schools added. Two booths outstanding include the negligible “Special Institutions, Hospitals & Remotes”. Still no two-party figures available.

7.25pm. Cecil Andrews Senior High School and Neerigen Brook Primary School added, again consistent with the overall picture.

7.21pm. Two more booths, Gwynne Park Primary School and Kelmscott Senior High School, fail to change the picture. Turnout not looking so bad, at least if my calculation is an accurate guide.

7.19pm. Whoops – I was looking at the result for the CDP, who are obviously scooping up homeless Liberals, rather than the Greens, who are performing rather modestly.

7.18pm. In fact, results looking very similar to the Willagee by-election.

7.16pm. Armadale-Kelmscott Senior Citizens Centre and Kingsley Primary School booths added. Labor still looking good to top their 2008 primary vote. The Greens are up just shy of 15 per cent.

7.13pm. If anyone noticed that alarming turnout figure, it was based on a miscalculation that has now been corrected.

7.10pm. Two booths in, Challis Primary School and St Mary in the Valley Anglican Church Hall in relatively marginal Kelmscott, and the Labor is holding up okay. The psychological hurdle for them is whether they can stay ahead of their 2008 primary vote.

7pm. After a slow start, 1188 postal votes have been added, and they show no indication of a boilover. My swing figures are based on booth matching, so with only postal votes available there is nothing showing there yet.

6pm. Welcome to live coverage of Western Australia’s Armdale by-election. First results should be in from about 6.30pm. Given the apparent certainty of a Labor win, the points of interest are how their primary vote bears up, and how much the AFL grand final and election fatigue will affect turnout.

Armadale and Araluen and Walter Taylor

Time for a new thread. Politics watchers have had pretty big fish to fry recently, but as electoral minutiae are this site’s raison d’etre, here’s a review of looming events which might have escaped your notice. Feel free to discuss what you’d usually discuss in comments.

• Voters in the safe Labor WA state seat of Armadale go to the polls on Saturday to choose a successor to Alannah MacTiernan, following her unsuccessful stab at the federal seat of Canning. I’m wondering if the date might have been chosen so as not to clash with the AFL grand final, and whether events on that front might result in a very low turnout on Saturday. With the Liberals sitting the contest out and no significant minor challengers emerging, the only other point of interest is how the Labor primary vote holds up with talk building of a threat to Eric Ripper’s leadership. Labor’s candidate is Tony Buti, a law professor at the University of Western Australia. Buti heads a ballot paper filled out by Jamie van Burgel of the Christian Democratic Party, independent John D. Tucak (who had extremely limited success as an upper house candidate for Eastern Metropolitan at the 2007 state election) and Owen Davies of the Greens. More from Antony Green.

• On Saturday week, voters in the Alice Springs seat of Araluen will choose a successor to outgoing Country Liberal Party member (and former leader) Jodeen Carney, who on August 19 announced she was retiring for health reasons. A by-election in the Northern Territory offers interesting parallels with the federal situation, as the Labor government has been on a parliamentary knife edge since the 2008 election returned a result of 13 Labor, 11 Country Liberal Party and one independent. The government assumed minority status when its member for Macdonnell, Alison Anderson, quit to sit as an independent in July 2009 – prompting the existing independent, Gerry Wood of the normally conservative electorate of Nelson, to guarantee Labor on confidence and supply in the interests of “stable government” (there was also a brief period in which Arafura MP Marion Scrymgour was on the cross-benches). As a CLP seat, Araluen gives Labor the remote prospect of improving their position, although the 24.6 per cent margin leaves them with little cause for optimism (it should be noted that election results can be hugely variable in the Northern Territory, where bite-sized electorates make candidate factors crucially important). The CLP candidate is Alice Springs deputy mayor Robyn Lambley, described by Ben Langford of the Northern Territory News as a “mediator and dispute resolution expert”. Labor’s candidate is Adam Findlay, a chef with no background in politics to speak of.

• On October 23, a Brisbane City Council by-election will be held in the ward of Walter Taylor, which has been vacated by Jane Prentice, the newly elected LNP member for the federal seat of Ryan. The LNP have nominated a former policy officer for Prentice, Julian Simmonds, who seems unlikely to be troubled given the 21.0 per cent margin from the 2008 election. Labor’s candidate is Louise Foley, who according to Tony Moore of Fairfax has “worked in the Queensland public service during the Beattie Government as a ministerial advisor in local government, planning, transport, education, main roads and with the office of Premier and Cabinet”. Also in the field are Tim Dangerfield of the Greens and independent William Borbasi. Walter Taylor was one of 16 wards won by Liberal in 2008, with 10 being won by Labor. Lord mayor Campbell Newman of the LNP serves a fixed four-year term regardless of the numbers on council.

Willagee by-election live

Chew (CDP) 1170 6.9%
Tinley (ALP) 9123 53.8% 1.7% 60.0%
Harper (GRN) 5177 30.5% 13.8% 40.0%
Georgatos (IND) 1478 8.7%
TOTAL 16948
COUNTED: 76.8%
BOOTHS (OF 12): 12

Sunday. I’ve identified nine previous by-elections which were contested by Labor and the Greens but not the Liberals – four federal in which Labor was in opposition, and five state in which they were in government. The average result overall was a 0.11 per cent primary vote swing against Labor. In the state by-elections it was 0.9 per cent against Labor; in the federal by-elections it was 0.88 per cent to Labor. Six of the results were worse for Labor than Willagee, while only three were better.

However, I’d argue that one of these by-elections didn’t fit the mould. That was the Isaacs federal by-election in 2000, caused by the death of Greg Wilton. All the others were like Willagee in that they were caused by the voluntary mid-term departure of the sitting member, which demonstrably leads voters to be unhappy with the party concerned. Sure enough, Isaacs was Labor’s best result out of the 10, with their primary vote increasing 8.1 per cent. Take that out of the equation and Labor on average suffered a 1.14 per cent swing overall, or 1.53 per cent against when limited to the federal by-elections conducted while they were in opposition. Only two of eight results were better for Labor than Willagee, against six worse.

8.19pm. It’s in. With the notional two-party result with all booths counted plus (I presume) the evening’s supply of postals and pre-polls, the WAEC’s notional 2CP result is 60.53-39.47. My rough yardstick for the evening had been 50-30-10-10, so Labor can feel pleased, particularly with the psychologically important achievement of having improved their primary vote. My expectation of a Greens primary vote of 30 per cent factored in that it had been an unhappy campaign for them, but their 30.6 per cent is nonetheless a reasonable result that again demonstrates Liberal voters’ willingness to vote tactically. I’m told the Gerry Georgatos campaign had a fairly low profile at polling booths, which probably helps explain the surprising fact that the Greens got more preferences than Labor despite both minor candidates directing against them on HTV cards. Much of his support would have come from Liberals parking their vote with the only available independent and following their normal habit of putting Labor last, and he equally has a support base among natural Greens sympathisers.

8.04pm. I gather we’re still awaiting one booth’s notional 2CP count, and that will be it for the evening.

7.52pm. To clarify, the WAEC’s “2CP count” obviously refers to the full distribution of preferences, which will not be conducted until all the votes are in. They would do better to call it that.

7.45pm. Final two booths, Coolbellup Primary School and Southern Districts Senior Citizens Centre, have reported, respectively giving Labor a relatively poor and relatively good result.

7.43pm. Looks like the Greens are doing quite a bit better on preferences than either I or Antony Green had estimated. With real figures to play with, my 2PP figure for Labor has gone down from 63.0 per cent to 60.4 per cent.

7.37pm. The WAEC have outsmarted me. I had been hitting refresh on their “two-candidate preferred” page and coming up with nothing. It turns out they have a separate page called “notional distribution of preferences”. I will be interested to learn what the distinction between these two concepts is. No polling booth breakdown is offered.

7.33pm. The Greens might have spoken too soon in claiming victory there – 306 to 297 in favour of Tinley. Nonetheless, it’s given them their biggest primary vote swing of 23.0 per cent. Continuing the trend of Fremantle, evidently a lot of Liberals are happy to thumb their nose at Labor by parking their votes with the Greens.

7.32pm. Anglican Church of the Holy Cross Hall in Melville added.

7.25pm. Labor primary vote up slightly at Samson Primary School; just keeping their nose in front in the race to improve on their 2008 primary vote.

7.24pm. Samson Primary School added.

7.19pm. Greens Twitter feed reports they have won the Anglican Church of the Holy Cross Hall, which presumably means on the primary vote. This is Labor’s weakest and the Liberals’ strongest booth in the electorate. The other strong Liberal booth is the just reported Melville Senior High School – with a lot of slack to be taken up here there were solid primary vote swings for both Labor and Greens.

7.18pm. Melville Senior High School and Southwell Primary School added.

7.15pm. Labor vote down 5.1 per cent in Hilton, their weakest result yet.

7.13pm. Hilton Primary School and 933 pre-polls added.

7.08pm. East Hamilton Hill the first polling booth to give the Greens a single figure primary vote swing – however, this was a particularly poor booth for the Liberals, so there was less slack to be taken up. Labor down 2.3 per cent; touch and go whether they’ll break even.

7.07pm. East Hamilton Hill Primary School added. Still no real 2PP results.

7.02pm. Southern Districts Senior Citizens Centre (Drive-in) sees a lot more business this time around – 126 votes compared to 18.

6.59pm. Labor down slightly in both, Greens up 13.0 per cent and 17.9 per cent.

6.58pm. Caralee Community School and North Lake Senior Campus added.

6.52pm. Phoenix Primary School in – Labor down 3.6 per cent, Greens up 11.7 per cent.

6.48pm. All three sources have Labor up on the primary vote, though by wildly varying amounts. Same goes for the Greens – if their increase in Palmyra from 16.4 per cent 35.8 per cent is typical of the polling booth results, they will make up a lot of ground from the present scoreline.

6.47pm. 1658 postal votes added (this won’t be all of them).

6.46pm. Palmyra Primary School booth added.

6.35pm. A note of explanation. Vote numbers and the percentage figures to their right are raw votes. The swing and 2PP figures are derived through booth matching, so Tinley’s primary vote from special institutions and hospitals is 22.4 per cent higher than Carpenter’s was. The 2PP figure is based on a guesstimate that Liberal preferences would have gone 80-20 in favour of the Greens in 2008, and that this time CDP preferences will go 70-30 to Labor and Georgatos’s will split 50-50. On that basis, there has been a 25.2 per cent swing to Labor from special institutions and hospitals in Labor-versus-Greens terms. The CDP and Georgatos preference splits I’m using will be superseded by real preference splits when notional two-party figures start to come in.

6.31pm. Special institutions and hospitals are in. Good enough for me – I’m calling it for Tinley.

6.10pm. Welcome to the Poll Bludger’s live coverage of the Willagee by-election count. First figures should be through in about 15 minutes or so.

Willagee by-election: November 28

Tuesday, November 24

Comments thread troublemaker Frank Calabrese has caught the attention of The West Australian’s Inside Cover.

Saturday, November 14

The Fremantle Herald reports Gerry Georgatos is forming a new party he proposes to call the “Real Greens”. Such a name would certainly not be permissible under the Commonwealth Electoral Act, but the state’s Electoral Act does not contain a provision equivalent to that prohibiting a name which “a reasonable person would think suggests that a connection or relationship exists between the party and a registered party if that connection or relationship does not in fact exist” (which was designed to disqualify Liberals for Forests and others like it). Georgatos also disputes Lynn MacLaren’s denial last week that she had been behind the preselection of Hsien Harper, saying she had previously admitted this to him.

UPDATE: I’ve been provided with a more in-depth version of the same article, presumably from the Melville or Cockburn version of the Herald.

Sunday, November 8

The Sunday Times reports Georgatos will be directing preferences to Labor:

Labor candidate Peter Tinley’s chances of winning the Willagee state by-election have been boosted, with independent Gerry Georgatos giving preferences to Labor at the November 28 poll. Mr Georgatos, who unsuccessfully sought pre-selection for Willagee for the Greens, said apart from himself, he believed Mr Tinley was the best candidate. He said Greens candidate Hsien Harper was a “good person”, but he believed Mr Tinley was a better candidate. Mr Georgatos denied giving Labor his preferences as payback for not being pre-selected.

Friday, November 6

fremherald051109maclarenThis week’s Fremantle Herald features a letter from Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren (right) in which she rejects claims the branch meeting that preselected Hsien Harper was stacked, saying the party’s “consensus decision-making” means “branch stacking isn’t possible”. One who begs to differ is Steve Walker, who has told the paper he quit because of “the appalling dishonesty and branch-stacking within the party”. Notwithstanding that he is no longer involved with the party, Walker claims the Willagee preselection was “all the handiwork of Lynn”, whom he labels “the Brian Burke of the Greens”. The paper also corrects its assertion last week that Walker’s gripe had been that he was overlooked for preselection in Fremantle at the expense of Adele Carles – his aspirations had in fact been for the South Metropolitan seat currently occupied by MacLaren. Walker then proceeded to run as an independent, and lodged an above-the-line preference ticket which was punitive with respect to MacLaren personally: while her Greens running mate Scott Ryan was put second, MacLaren was placed behind all major party candidates (since MacLaren was elected anyway, the real impact of his votes was to help elect the Liberals’ Phil Edman ahead of Labor’s Fiona Henderson).

The Herald page linked to above also profiles Christian Democratic Party candidate Henri Chew, and informs us a candidates’ forum will be held at 7:30pm on Wednesday, November 25 (three days before the by-election) at Melville Senior High School’s performing arts hall. There are ads in the paper for Hsien Harper on page one and Peter Tinley on page three, scans of which appear below.



Friday, October 30

fremherald301009The hugely eventful comments thread for this post has made headlines, providing source material for the front page lead story in this weekend’s Fremantle Herald (the Georgatos letter referred to at the end of the scanned article is an edited version of this comment). At issue is the manner in which Hsien Harper was installed as Greens candidate at the expense of Gerry Georgatos, who was preselected earlier in the year when it was felt Alan Carpenter might join Jim McGinty in allowing for a by-election on the same day as the daylight saving referendum in May. Georgatos indicated he was in favour of nominations being reopened when Carpenter did eventually pull the plug, but “party insiders” cited by the Herald say he was “pushed into the decision”. Hsien Harper’s backers got the better of the ensuing preselection meeting, prompting opponents to complain it had been stacked. Georgatos subsequently nominated as an independent, and was promptly forced out of the party.

The sidelining of Georgatos is believed to have occurred largely at the instigation of Lynn MacLaren, member for the corresponding upper house region of South Metropolitan. As the Herald puts it: “About 20 unhappy supporters have since been venting spleens on the Poll Bludger website, with one saying ‘okay, like the others I am a Green – [Lynn] MacLaren and [a] few others knifed him’.” It has been said that Georgatos was felt not to have paid his (metaphorical) party dues; that the campaign might suffer from what one aggrieved comments thread contributor describes as his “outspoken qualities”; and that a candidate with Harper’s union background would in any case be a better bet in a traditional Labor electorate like Willagee.

fremherald301009tinleyadThe dispute also appears to have opened old wounds relating to Adele Carles’s recruitment as candidate for Fremantle at the 2008 election, with some in the party said to have unhappy memories of her as an independent rival to erstwhile upper house MP Jim Scott when he ran in Fremantle in 2005. The nomination of Carles came at the expense of Steve Walker (UPDATE: Or so the Herald reported, but it appears not – see below), described by the Herald as a “founding member” and “loyal warrior for the Greens in various campaigns”. Here too tactical motivations were thought to have been in play, with Carles’s professional background, conservative presentation and young family greatly assisting the party when it sought to win over the Liberal voters who ultimately decided the by-election in her favour (UPDATE 2: The Fremantle Herald confirms it erred in linking Walker to the Fremantle preselection in the next week’s edition – see the entry above).

The ABC’s Peter Kennedy writes about the by-election here, and discusses it here. I’ve also scanned in a full-page Labor ad from the Fremantle Herald – click on the thumbnail to the left for a full view.

UPDATE: Minutes later, Greens convenor Scott Ryan responds:

There are substantial errors of fact in the Herald article that are repeated on your site. Steve Walker did not attempt to pre-select for the State seat of Fremantle in 2008. Adele Carles was preselected unopposed. Steve had already left the party after unsuccessfully nominating for South Metropolitan, choosing to contest that as an independent. Any suggestion that Walker was dumped for Carles is entirely fictitious.

I am not aware of any discomfort over Adele running as an independent in the same election as Jim Scott. She ran on coastal issues and to the best of my memory swapped preferences 2-2. If there are some members who have “unhappy memories” of this, I can of course not rule it out – though it’s nothing I’ve ever heard expressed in years of service to the Fremantle Greens.

As for the remainder of the story, The Greens have not attempted to officially respond to the comments on the site and will not be drawn into debate on that level. Allegations contained within are simply preposterous and delusional.

I have personally maintained communication with Gerry and he maintains that the process was fair and appropriate, and that he was not pushed into re-opening nominations.

I realise that what is said can never be unsaid and perhaps the original posters simply had no idea how damaging their comments would be to Gerry’s campaign and to ours. I am disappointed that the Herald has resorted to cut-and-paste journalism without the fact-checking step in between.

Thursday, October 22

Nominations have closed and the ballot paper order has been drawn, with a modest field of four candidates. Intriguingly, one of the four is Gerry Georgatos, who earlier gave every indication of being relaxed about the re-opening of Greens nominations which ultimately saw him make way for Hsien Harper. The ballot paper order runs Henri Chew (Christian Democratic Party); Peter Tinley (Labor); Hsien Harper (Greens); Gerry Georgatos (Independent).

Wednesday, October 21

The Greens have preselected Hsien Harper, an organiser for the Community and Public Sector Union who ran in Willagee at the 2005 election. Harper was also the party’s candidate for Maylands at last year’s state election, and at the Murdoch by-election earlier in the year.

Sunday, October 18

The Liberals confirmed on Friday they would not be fielding a candidate. The Greens have issued a statement to clarify their reopening of preselection:

The Fremantle-Tangney regional group of The Greens met on Tuesday the 6th of October to discuss opening of nominations for Willagee, selecting a 2-week process for nomination and selection. This process will conclude at a meeting on Tuesday the 20th of October with the selection and announcement of a candidate. Prior to the Fremantle by-election, the Greens chose to not only pre-select a candidate for Fremantle but also for Willagee, expecting a small chance that Alan Carpenter may resign at the same time as Jim McGinty. As this did not occur we elected not to announce the candidate publicly, thinking that it may be seen as an arrogant, provocative or disrespectful move. The candidate selected at the time was Gerry Georgatos. Seven months have passed since the original process, and while there is no question of validity in the previous process, the political landscape has changed somewhat after the victory in Fremantle. Many new members joined in the surge of enthusiasm and the overall chemistry of the party feels a little different. With these issues in mind a proposal was put to the Fremantle-Tangney group to consider re-opening nominations. Gerry himself was joint author of this proposal, stating to the Fremantle Herald (Oct 3) “I feel that I should not hold [the branch] to a decision made seven months ago and would rather ask the members if they want more input. The Greens and I do business differently to the [other] political brands – it’s got to be participatory democracy or there isn’t democracy”. Gerry intends to nominate again as part of the new process.

Tuesday, October 13

Chalpat Sonti of WAtoday reports November 28 has been set by Speaker Grant Woodhams as the date for the by-election (hat tip: Frank Calabrese).

Monday, October 12

The ABC TV news reports, from sources unnamed, that the by-election is believed likely to be held on November 28.

Saturday, October 10

The Fremantle Herald reports Greens state convenor Scott Ryan saying the party will “open up the preselection process again”, despite having preselected “university guild manager Gerry Georgatos” in February when it was thought Carpenter might head for the exit to allow for a by-election on the same day as the daylight saving referendum.

Wednesday, October 7

LATE: Paul Lampathakis of the Sunday Times reports Peter Tinley has been unanimously preselected by Labor’s 16-member administration committee.

EARLY: The ABC reports there are five candidates for Labor preselection: the aforementioned Tinley and Hume, “Labor branch officials” Tony Toledo and Greg Wilton, and Stephen Dawson, former chief-of-staff to Carpenter government Environment Minister David Templeman. Rewi Lyall in comments hears the latter has been endorsed by the party’s Left caucus. Contra the Fremantle Herald, David McEwan is not on the list.

Friday, October 2

The Fremantle Herald reports two further candidates for Labor preselection: Dave Hume, who made a quixotic run against Peter Tagliaferri for the Fremantle preselection and is currently a candidate for Hilton ward in the Fremantle council elections, and David McEwan, an “environmental lawyer involved in the campaign to stop the extension of Roe Highway through the Beeliar wetlands”.

Monday, September 28

Robert Taylor of The West Australian reports Dave Kelly has confirmed he will not be a candidate for preselection. That gives pole position to Peter Tinley, who it so happens lives in Beaconsfield – not in the electorate, but very close to it. Taylor further reports the Greens candidate is expected to be “lawyer and environmental campaigner Graeme McEwan”. CORRECTION: Had the wrong end of the handle here. McEwan is not a Green; Taylor does not say exactly what he is, but I’m presuming he’s a Liberal (although I would have thought it unlikely they would field a candidate).

Sunday, September 27

A report by Paul Lampathakis of the Sunday Times suggests I may have spoken too soon in anointing Dave Kelly as the likely Labor candidate: Peter Tinley, the former SAS officer and Iraq war veteran who unsuccessfully contested Stirling at the 2007 federal election, has confirmed he will nominate, and is the only potential candidate listed in the article. Labor state secretary Simon Mead is quoted saying the preselection will be conducted “within ten days”. The Lampathakis article quotes unnamed Labor figures lambasting Carpenter for not timing his departure to allow for the poll to be held concurrently with the Fremantle by-election and daylight saving referendum on May 16; relatedly, Rebecca Carmody writes in the Sunday Times that Alannah MacTiernan should “do the right thing” and go now so that the Willagee by-election can coincide with one for Armadale.

Friday, September 25

Former WA Premier Alan Carpenter has just announced on the ABC’s Stateline program that he will resign from parliament next Friday. This will initiate a by-election in his safe Labor seat of Willagee, located just down the road from the Poll Bludger’s humble abode in Fremantle. Likely Labor candidate: Dave Kelly, state secretary of the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union.

For non-local observers excited by the prospect of a by-election in the seat neighbouring Fremantle, I have assembled a few stats for cold shower purposes. Unfortunately, the census figures are based on boundaries from before the one-vote one-value redistribution – Fremantle’s would still be pretty accurate, but Willagee would have gotten a bit wealthier. “MFY” stands for median family income.

ALP 2008 51.7% 38.7%
LIB 2008 30.9% 30.2%
GRN 2008 17.4% 27.6%
ALP 2005 47.9% 43.8%
LIB 2005 25.1% 26.8%
GRN 2005 9.0% 17.1%
Professionals 17.7% 29.2%
MFY $1,137 $1,313
Mortgages 35.0% 26.9%
Family households 65.5% 56.9%
Public housing 33.6% 19.6%