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%

Fremantle by-election live

# % Swing 2PP Proj.
Varga (IND) 574 3.3%
Totten (CEC) 44 0.3%
Ter Horst (IND) 145 0.8%
Zagami (IND) 927 5.3%
Boni (IND) 302 1.7%
Du Plessis (FFP) 158 0.9% -0.8%
Tagliaferri (ALP) 6,748 38.5% -0.4% 46.7% 47.1%
Hollett (CDP) 300 1.7% -0.2%
Lorrimar (IND) 136 0.8%
Carles (GRN) 7,802 44.5% 17.5% 53.3% 52.9%
Wainwright 400 2.3%
TOTAL 17,536


Here’s me on the by-election in Crikey.


I’ve knocked up a map showing the primary vote swing to the Greens at the different booths. No visible pattern can be discerned, but I’ve done it so here it is. I’ve also tried to find correlations between votes, swings and demographics, and found only one worth mentioning: the Greens swing had a correlation with the Italian-speaking population of -0.47 and an R-squared value of 0.22. No doubt statisticians will tell me a sample of 10 booths doesn’t mean very much, but the scatterplot looks persuasive to my unpractised eye and it makes all kinds of sense intuitively. Equally interesting was the lack of a significant correlation between the Greens swing and the Liberal vote from the state election. That would seem to argue against the notion that a static Labor vote was swamped by Liberals moving to the Greens. Note that the lowest swing was recorded at a Catholic primary school, Christ the King in Beaconsfield. For what it’s worth, Alan Carpenter was handing out how-to-vote cards there.



9.20pm. Antony Green: “There is a very important bit of history in this reslt. This is the first time at a state or federal election that the Greens have outpolled the Labor Party on primary votes. All previous cases where the Greens have won or come close to victory have seen Labor ahead on the primary vote and the Greens chasing Labor down on Liberal and Independent preferences.”

9.10pm. All together now …

Mea culpa to Greens pianist Geoffrey, who was told by me that his candidate would fall short by about 52-48, despite his enthusiastic protestations to the contrary.

8.42pm. So, the new maths for our already very exciting Legislative Assembly: Labor 27, Liberal 24, Nationals 4, Independent 3, Greens 1.

8.39pm. Carles now leads on the WAEC’s two-party count 8745 to 7370.

8.32pm. Now the WAEC has the Greens lead at a definitively insurmountable 7421 to 6395. I would like to thank them though for that little moment of excitement, while reminding them that that isn’t their brief.

8.30pm. Now the WAEC says Carles leads 6056 to 5535, which sounds still more like it. Too much to rein in on postals.

8.27pm. Beaconsfield PS and 1306 postal votes added. Despite what the 2PP says, I don’t see how Labor could win from those primaries.

8.24pm. WAEC count now has Carles leading 4900 to 4660, which sounds more like it. However, it does suggest that Labor are doing slightly better on preferences than I or Antony had projected. It might not even be over yet. But again, who knows.

8.22pm. So, to summarise. Thanks to the WAEC, I have absolutely no idea what’s going on. If anyone from the WAEC is reading this, please send a fact-finding mission to the Tasmanian Electoral Commission to find out how to conduct a count properly.

8.19pm. Antony Green also doesn’t appear to have any real world preference figures he can use. If the WAEC has decided that we only need to be given a lump sum two-party count, I can only say that they’ve bungled once again.

8.15pm. Hmm. The WAEC has a big, uninformative “notional distribution of preferences” which has Tagliaferri leading 4071-3824. This is extremely exasperating. Where are these votes from? Why haven’t they been recording them booth by booth like everybody else does?

8.04pm. Big win for Carles at Fremantle Primary School. I’m calling it for her.

8.01pm. Carles also has a big win at East Fremantle Primary School, making it very tempting to call it for her …

7.59pm. Carles wins the upmarket Bicton booth.

7.53pm. Carles wins Richmond Primary School, up near Bicton way, which gives Zagami his first big result. Nonetheless, that has Carles’ lead narrowing a little further on my estimate. I might also note that the Greens didn’t do a postal vote mailout.

7.52pm. ABC has Christ the King bringing Carles down only a little, to 53.2 per cent (exactly where I have it). Tagliaferri still needs some more big results.

7.46pm. Very good result for Tagliaferri at Christ the King School makes things interesting again. Interesting to note that Alan Carpenter was handing out how to vote cards there …

7.43pm. VERY surprised no other candidate is over 5 per cent.

7.41pm. Re the previous comment – White Gum Valley, the most Italian booth of all, was also a big win for Carles. No particular reason to expect the nearby Beaconsfield booths to behave differently.

7.23pm. Beaconsfield and Christ the King are two strongly Italian booths that are yet to report – but so was Palmyra, and Carles won that.

7.22pm. Another good result for Carles in White Gum Valley – 46 per cent to 39.5 per cent. Minor party vote lower than I might have thought.

7.21pm. Antony now has the Greens 2.5 per cent in front after preference projection.

7.20pm. Tagliaferri finally wins a booth, the solidly working class Phoenix.

7.18pm. Carles wins Anglican Church Hall as well, which is in a similar area.

7.16pm. Greens win the Palmyra booth as well, which isn’t their heartland. I suggest my projection flatters Labor a bit.

7.14pm. Antony’s projection has the Greens 3.4 per cent ahead.

7.13pm. St Patrick’s in – Carles wins the primary vote, but check out that projection …

7.08pm. Few teething problems with the table as usual – working through them.

7.06pm. 622 pre-polls added (along with Rottnest Island) – there’s reason to believe these might behave unusually, but at they’re at least a little bit exciting for the Greens.

6.37pm. Come on, you’d think at least Rottnest might have reported by now … Anyway, I’ve been doing a bit of work so I do get a projected two-party result, based on the booth figures calculated by Antony Green. I wouldn’t stake my wages on its accuracy though.

6.14pm. First trickle of daylight saving votes coming in. Big no majority, but it doesn’t mean anything yet.

6.05pm. Some explanations of what you will see above. Booth matching will be employed for the primary vote swings, but not the two-party preferred vote as no figures are available in Labor versus Greens terms from the state election. The figures will at first be estimates, but will be replaced with real world numbers as booths report their notional two-party counts.

6pm. Polls have closed, so welcome to the Poll Bludger’s live coverage of the Fremantle by-election count. I don’t think I’ll have much to say about the daylight saving referendum, which you will in any case find covered more than adequately at ABC Elections.

Fremantle by-election: May 16 (episode two)

This post is being progressively updated to follow the campaign for the May 16 by-election in the Western Australian state seat of Fremantle. Episode one followed events from Jim McGinty’s resignation on April 3 through to May 6.

Saturday, May 16

4pm. Just completed a circuit of the Fremantle booths. Carmelo Zagami was represented everywhere with volunteers wearing Liberal-ish rosettes and spruiking their candidate as “independent Liberal”, which is good if not entirely unexpected news for the Greens. The CDP and Socialist Alliance were represented at most booths, Varga (also promoted as “independent Liberal”) and Boni at about half. I encountered the DLP directly at three booths and heard talk they had been around in two others, so I suspect they have a few flying squads in action. I quite often saw batches of Jan ter Horst cards hanging off his signs, but zero actual volunteers. Not a single Family First volunteer was encountered, although they had a lot of signs about – evidently they had a small force who decorated all the booths early in the morning, but pretty much left it at that. The signs were clearly the same ones as were used at last year’s state election, including some that presented Anthony Fels as a party leader of sorts. Indeed, one discarded poster at the Christ the King School booth in Beaconsfield promoted a candidate for Cockburn. I had a chat with Alan Carpenter, who was handing out how-to-vote cards at Christ the King School. He hadn’t found the voters any less inscrutable than usual, but said voters in the Norfolk Street area where he had door-knocked were extremely engaged with the by-election and seeking a representative with a “green tinge” (not that that comes as a surprise).

12 noon. Just done my bit for democracy at the Fremantle Primary School booth, where I had no trouble amassing how to vote cards from Labor, Greens, Carmelo Zagami, Sam Wainwright, the CDP and Rosemary Lorrimar. There was one bloke there who might have been Family First, but nobody for Varga, Boni, ter Horst or the CEC (the first two surprise me, the latter don’t). Labor’s card has a photocopied back with translations into Italian, Portuguese and Croatian – I wonder if this varies from booth to booth. Lorrimar’s has the DLP logo at the top, and Tagliaferri third behind the CDP. Wainwright has Carles second and Tagliaferri third (“people and planet before profits, vote for a real worker”, quoth the Socialist Alliance volunteer as she handed me the card). Zagami has Carles fifth, Tagliaferri last and no mention of the word “Liberal”. There was no presence of any kind for either of the daylight saving camps. Will whip around to the other polling booths over the next few hours.

Friday, May 15 (late edition)

The final Fremantle Herald of the campaign leads with an article headed “Cliffhanger”, that being the assessment of talented and good-looking Notre Dame University academic Martin Drum. Page two relates that Peter Tagliaferri’s mother, Giovanna, is recovering in Fremantle Hospital after suffering two heart attacks. Beneath is a story about the Greens’ push for a light rail line, accompanied by a photo of Adele Carles and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam. There are fewer ads than last week, as the paper does not hit letterboxes until tomorrow. There’s this small Greens ad on page one and this full-page effort on page five, along with two further efforts on page five which look like Greens ads but have been placed by freelance supporters: this one from the Fremantle Markets Stallholders Association, and this one from a Jon Strachan, who I’d probably have heard of if I got out more. Two more freelance anti-Tagliaferri ads, one from the Fremantle Markets Stallholders Association, the other from anti-development group SpeakOutWA! (which is pro-Carles as well as anti-Tagliaferri). Two previously seen Labor ads, here and here, are given another run, as are the usual full-pagers from Nik Varga and Steve Boni.

Further campaign material: a Labor mailout hit the letterboxes this week, consisting of this covering letter and a flyer with front and back. Here’s the Greens how-to-vote card; the front and back of a pamphlet I’d previously missed; and localised leaflets for Hamilton Hill/Spearwood and East Fremantle/Bicton, which both have this on the other side.

Friday, May 15 (early edition)

According to tonight’s ABC Television news, it’s “understood Labor’s internal polling puts the margin between the two candidates at less than 3 per cent”. This presumably means the poll has Tagliaferri in front. Here’s a piece I wrote for today’s Crikey Daily Mail, which seems to have ended up on the cutting room floor:

Western Australian voters get their fourth opportunity tomorrow to give the correct answer in a referendum on daylight saving, after earlier narrow defeats in 1975, 1984 and 1992. While that should account for most of the local headlines in coming days, politics watchers will be equally engaged by a concurrent event that could see the WA Greens create history, or something very close to it.

As well as saying yea or nay to annual summer clock tampering, voters in Fremantle will choose a new state MP to replace Labor factional titan Jim McGinty, who has used the referendum to minimise the opprobrium which normally attaches to forcing a mid-term by-election. With the seat having been in Labor hands since 1924, and the Liberals not bothering to field a candidate, this would normally be of only academic interest.

However, one of the surprises of last September’s state election was the fright McGinty received from Greens candidate Adele Carles, who fell 642 votes short of overtaking the Liberals and scoring an unlikely win on their preferences.
The Greens have done the logical thing and once again nominated Carles, who brought to the party a 5.8 per cent personal vote she scored as an independent in 2005. That compelled Labor to pick a candidate with a local profile of his own – Fremantle mayor Peter Tagliaferri, who was offered preselection at the expense of union officials who had long had designs on the seat.

As has frequently been noted by his many opponents on the left, Tagliaferri’s Labor credentials are none too convincing. He earlier made a run as an independent at the 1991 by-election which brought Jim McGinty to the seat, directing his preferences to the Liberals. When Melissa Parke won preselection to replace Carmen Lawrence as local member at the 2007 federal election, Tagliaferri complained about the nomination process (which was very much like his own) and threatened another run as an independent. Parke’s name now appears on the authorisation notices for his own campaign material.

Critics have also made great play of Tagliaferri’s decision last year to join the Liberal fundraising group the 500 Club, which he always maintained was to gain access to ministers in the newly elected Liberal-National government. To this has been added the accumulated baggage of eight years as a pro-business mayor, with many local sensibilities having been affronted by rent hikes for stallholders at Fremantle Markets and non-union contracts for council workers.

Another local issue with a complex bearing on the campaign is the grand vision for a $10 billion complex of houses, offices and artificial islands on the other side of Fremantle Harbour. Two independents who support the project have made themselves highly visible through full-page advertisements in local newspapers, prompting suspicious mutterings from the Greens. One such candidate is real estate agent Nik Varga, whose ads have incorporated a Liberal Party logo in the spelling of his name, to the chagrin of party director Ben Morton. Varga has been linked to lobbyist and former Labor MP John Halden, whose clients include the North Port Quay consortium. Another NPQ supporter, Steve Boni, hails from the other side of the political fence, having run for Labor in a country electorate in 2001. Both are directing preferences to Labor ahead of the Greens.

The key to the by-election is the 30 per cent who voted Liberal last year, which Labor will be hoping it can partly convert into a personal vote for Tagliaferri. It would further hope that the remainder scatters among independents and religious party candidates (Family First, the Christian Democrats and the unregistered Democratic Labor Party are all in the field) whose how-to-vote cards recommend that the Greens be put last. Should the Liberal faithful maintain their normal practice of putting Labor last, perhaps via a vote for one-time Liberal candidate Carmelo Zagami, the Greens might yet secure a mainland lower house seat for only the second time in the party’s history.

Such a result could also have substantial consequences for Labor in both the state and federal spheres. The West Australian’s Robert Taylor last week described the by-election as a “make-or-break poll” for the party’s unconvincing state leader, Eric Ripper, who might find himself deposed by popular Gallop-Carpenter government Alannah MacTiernan. That would require MacTiernan to abandon her widely reported federal ambitions in the seat of Canning, currently held for the Liberals by Don Randall – who remains best remembered by the nation at large for his 1998 suggestion that Cheryl Kernot had “the morals of an alley cat on heat”.

I’m dragging this next bit up from yesterday’s entry so it sits alongside my details on polling booths and their surrounding areas. The following map shows the 2008 primary vote for Labor and the Greens, with the size of the numbers varying in proportion to number of votes cast – click on it to toggle from one to the other. The colour coding indicates 2006 census responses by collection district for the two variables which appeared to have the strongest correlation with the parties’ respective votes – income for Labor, not surprisingly (inversely correlated, of course), and “no religion” for the Greens, which should best be viewed as a proxy for a broader set of attitudes. It can collectively be seen that the electorate can be divided into three areas: a wealthy post-materialist zone around the city itself, the heartland of the Greens; a wealthy materialist zone along the river east of Stirling Highway, home to riverfront views, expensive real estate and a Liberal majority; and the less glamorous southern half of the electorate, which despite a considerable counter-cultural presence still conforms to the low-income, high-immigrant Labor-voting mould.

Click on image to toggle between Labor and Greens primary vote booth results from 2008

The following table matches polling booths with their surrounding census collection districts. Age refers to median age; MFY is median family income; “families” the percentage of households inhabited by families; “Italian” those who report that Italian is the main language spoken at home.

ALP LIB GRN Votes Age MFY Families Italian
1. Anglican Church Hall 37% 38% 20% 774 39 $1,557 55% 4%
2. Beaconsfield PS 39% 23% 34% 1918 43 $1,313 53% 10%
3. Bicton PS 31% 45% 20% 805 46 $1,692 54% 2%
4. Christ the King School 48% 25% 23% 1655 40 $957 57% 13%
5. East Fremantle PS 38% 28% 31% 2184 40 $1,585 50% 6%
6. Fremantle PS 36% 25% 36% 1513 35 $1,517 48% 9%
7. Palmyra PS 37% 29% 30% 660 39 $1,341 41% 11%
8. Phoenix PS 48% 24% 21% 620 42 $993 54% 2%
9. Richmond PS 29% 48% 20% 1834 42 $1,809 54% 2%
10. Rottnest Island 36% 16% 41% 61
11. St Patrick’s PS 38% 24% 35% 1655 44 $1,396 30% 9%
12. White Gum Valley PS 48% 20% 28% 1344 40 $1,159 46% 16%

Explanatory notes. Bicton Primary School was not a designated Fremantle polling booth last year; its vote totals were arrived at by taking 25 per cent from Richmond Primary School and 20 per cent from Anglican Church Hall. St Patrick’s School has replaced the nearby Fremantle Town Hall booth, which is why the vote figures on the map are in a slightly different place to the number 11. Similarly, Christ the King School has replaced Winterfold Primary School, located just down the road. Rottnest Island of course has no residents, and thus no census data and very few votes.

I spent much of the afternoon doing field work in Fremantle, taking photos of election paraphernalia. Posters in shop windows suggest the business community is strongly behind Peter Tagliaferri, but in other respects the Greens campaign has been more visible. Enjoy official Greens pianist Geoffrey’s provocatively Italian-style musical tribute to Adele Carles:

Thursday, May 14

Internet chat reports that Eric Ripper and Alan Carpenter are out doorknocking for Peter Tagliaferri, but so far they’ve given my house/area a miss. I have however had another Labor mailout which I’ll scan if and when I have time, although unlike Russell on the Larvatus Prodeo thread, nothing from the “independent Lib” (which presumably means Carmelo Zagami).

Tuesday, May 12

A new Labor pamphlet has hit the letterbox – front and back. Anna Winter of Larvatus Prodeo has a thread up on the by-election which is doing much brisker business than this one.

Monday, May 11

The second item on Saturday’s ABC TV evening news related Adele Carles’s concerns over alleged links between independent candidates and the North Port Quay project. Quoth Carles: “This looks more like a Melbourne Cup than a by-election. Suddenly 11 candidates popped out of nowhere and suddenly very big ads with this pro-North Port Quay message, anti-Greens stuff being printed.” The report noted that independent Nik Varga’s real estate business had sold exclusive apartments for project backers Strzelecki Group in Mandurah. Varga had right of reply on last night’s bulletin, saying he had “no relationship to Strzelecki Group until six months ago, for which I have now sold them one property. And I’ve sold my interest in my business, so I don’t see that will be a conflict of interest after the end of June.”

An anonymous “Election Insider” has passed on a 1980s vintage photo of Peter Tagliaferri and Geoff Gallop (then a Fremantle council colleague) without their hands around each other’s throats, by way of demonstrating that Tagliaferri “didn’t have much of a problem with Labor back then as others have made out”. But is that really Gallop and Tags, or is it 1960s harmony pop duo Peter and Gordon? I report – you decide.

Saturday, May 9

With only a week to go, the tempo of the campaign is starting to quicken:

• Robert Taylor in The West Australian says the by-election is “shaping as a make-or-break poll for Eric Ripper, whose grip on the Labor leadership would be seriously weakened by an ALP defeat”. A poor result might see him replaced by Alannah MacTiernan, who is regularly reported as seeking an entry into federal politics via the Liberal-held seat of Canning. However, Taylor says she is “holding off declaring her hand in case she is called upon to lead the WA Labor Party”.

• Yesterday, The West reported on a claim by independent candidate Carmelo Zagami that two people connected with the North Port Quay project had offered to provide polling booth volunteers and funding for political advertising if he agreed to preference Labor ahead of the Greens. Zagami earlier said he had approached the developers for a donation but had been rebuffed. Another independent, Nik Varga, is a client of former Labor MP John Halden’s lobbying firm Halden Burns, which also has the North Port Quay developers on its books. According to Jenny D’Anger of the Fremantle Herald, Varga “audibly gulped” when asked if Halden was assisting him, before conceding Halden had been engaged in an “advisory capacity”. D’Anger also reports the Liberal Party will be writing a “stern letter” to Varga over a local newspaper advertisement in which the “V” in his name is spelled with a tilted Liberal Party logo.

• The Herald also has more election advertising than you can poke a stick at, including a very large number of entries from people with various axes to grind against Tagliaferri. The most interesting of these is a full-page ad containing 110 signatories calling on Tagliaferri to resign as mayor. One of its four j’accuse entries reads: “You call yourself an ‘environmental campaigner’ when you refused to reject the proposed total destruction of Port Beach by NPQ”. What then to make of the ad’s endorsement by Carmelo Zagami, who as just discussed is ardently in favour of the project. Elsewhere we have a half-page open letter to Peter Tagliaferri and the Fremantle Council from Stallholders Association chairman Richard Murphy; an odd assortment of complaints authorised by one Helen McLeod of Beaconsfield; a half-page ad from Tagliaferri’s council antagonist Les Lauder; and the Australian Services Union maintaining the rage over non-union council contracts across a half-page ad. Deputy mayor John Dowson has also run a third ad following earlier efforts here and here. See below for further party and candidate advertising.

• The Socialist Alliance will conduct a campaign rally from noon today at Kings Square next to the Fremantle Town Hall. The speakers are Socialist Alliance candidate Sam Wainwright (who scored a rave front page review in the Herald for his spirited performance at Tuesday’s candidates forum), Adele Carles (which seems a bit unusual for an opposing party’s rally), and Paul Burlinson of the Australian Services Union.

For those of you who have just joined us, here’s an updated overview of the candidates in ballot paper order.

Nik Varga (Independent). A real estate agent from Riverton (well outside the electorate) of openly Liberal sympathies. However, Varga says the Greens won’t get his preference recommendation, perhaps explaining the Liberals’ displeasure with his use of their logo in this full-page ad, which has featured twice each in the Fremantle Herald and Fremantle Gazette Community.

Rob Totten (Citizens Electoral Council). Totten has not done any advertising that I’ve seen, but a two-sided flyer (front and back) was proffered at the candidates forum. The showpiece of his spiel at the forum was a poster brandished to demonstrate the extent of Antarctic sea ice, by way of showing that climate change was a fraud – which didn’t go down too well with the assembled throng of Freo lefties.

Jan ter Horst (Independent). Ter Horst has made himself known locally with claims of council corruption, which he has publicised by covering his house with slogans and driving a car with a coffin on top. He has been in long-running dispute with the council over a neighbouring strata development which blocked his ocean views, at one stage being contentiously imprisoned for contempt of court. Ter Horst has been running this ad in local newspapers during the campaign, and issued this flyer at the candidates’ forum.

Carmelo Zagami (Independent). Zagami ran as the Liberal candidate for the federal seat of Fremantle at the 2004 election, polling 35.9 per cent against Carmen Lawrence. He is the manager of the Fremantle United soccer club, and works as a paralegal at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The ABC reports he is running “to give Fremantle voters a chance to vote for a conservative candidate”, and plans to direct his preferences to the Greens. Zagami has been running two ads in local newspapers, here and here, to which he has this week added this intriguing effort replete with Liberal Party logo. It will be interesting to see if the Liberals are as “stern” in their response to a candidate who is directing preferences away from Labor.

Steve Boni (Independent). Described by Robert Taylor of The West Australian as a “pro-development Labor lawyer”, Boni was Labor’s candidate for Roe (which has since been superseded by Eyre) at the 2001 state election, running fourth with 16.2 per cent of the vote. He seems to be doing okay for campaign funding, having run this full-page ad twice in each of the two local newspapers.

Andriétte du Plessis (Family First). Du Plessis is a nurse who originally hails from South Africa. She was also the Family First candidate at last year’s state election, and for the federal seat of Fremantle at the 2007 federal election. The party does not seem to have run any advertising, outside of a page on the party website. Family First more often than not directs preferences to Labor ahead of the Greens, but did not do so in Fremantle at the state election last year. However, Glenn Cordingley of the Sunday Times says it is “understood” du Plessis’ preferences will be directed to Tagliaferri.

frem09alppostalPeter Tagliaferri (Labor). Tagliaferri is a member of a prominent local Italian family, and assumed ownership of its Interfoods cafe in 1983. In that year he became at 23 the youngest person ever elected to local government in Western Australia when he was elected to East ward on Fremantle City Council. He ran as an independent in the 1990 by-election that brought Jim McGinty to the seat, polling 3.6 per cent. In 2001 he was elected mayor, defeating incumbent Richard Utting, and was re-elected in 2005 with 62 per cent of the vote.

The Labor how to vote card runs 1. Tagliaferri; 2. Family First; 3. Steve Boni; 4. Christian Democratic Party; 5. Rosemary Anne Lorrimar; 6. Nik Varga; 7. Citizens Electoral Council; 8. Jan ter Horst; 9. Carmelo Zagami; 10. Greens; 11. Sam Wainwright. If some of this is not what you would expect, the rationale was to make the card easy to follow by listing candidates where possible in either forward or reverse ballot paper order. That doesn’t quite explain the CDP being put fourth, which was presumably the result of a preference deal.

Labor advertising:

Campaign website
Fremantle Herald advertisement (quarter page), May 9
Fremantle Herald advertisement (full page), May 9
Covering letter of advertising mailout, received May 5
Mailout flyer
Mailout pamphlet (front)
Mailout pamphlet (back)
Fremantle Herald advertisement, May 2
Flyer accompanying postal vote application mailout
Fremantle Herald advertisements, April 18 and April 25

Julie Hollett (Christian Democratic Party). Julie Hollett is director of the Jubilee Welfare Fund charity, and her advertising sells her as a “former Australian of the Year nominee”. It also speaks of her opposition to the Greens’ “agenda to introduce primary school curriculum to teach young children lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex lifestyles”. Sure enough, Adele Carles has been placed last on the how to vote card, the other side of which states the party’s case. Hollett also ran at last year’s state election, polling 1.9 per cent.

Rosemary-Anne Lorrimar (Independent). Robert Taylor of The West Australian reports Lorrimar is “a nurse who blames Mr McGinty for turning her from a private sector employee into a public servant”, and says she “will be directing preferences to Mr Tagliaferri not the least because the Greens are ‘more worried about trees and whales than people’.” As Rosemary Taboni, she was a candidate for the Democratic Labor Party three times in the 1970s – against Kim Beazley Sr in 1972, and for the Senate in 1974 and 1975 – and she is presumably also the Rosemary Lorrimar who for the Christian Democratic Party in Willagee in 2005. Lorrimar has run a low-key campaign, not fielding any advertising that I’ve seen and being the only candidate absent from Tuesday’s candidates forum.

frem09greensheraldad0805Adele Carles (Greens). Carles is a 41-year-old lawyer and resident of South Fremantle. She came to local prominence first as part of the Save South Beach campaign, which opposed a housing development within contentiously close range of the beach’s dunes, and later when she launched a legal challenge against the state government’s plans to dig up a former lead smelter site in South Fremantle. Carles polled 5.8 per cent as an independent running in opposition to the South Beach development in 2005, and surprised most observers by scoring 27.6 per cent when nominated by the Greens in 2008 – more than 10 per cent higher than former MPs Ian Alexander and Jim Scott had achieved in 2001 and 2005, and 6.0 per cent higher than the combined vote of Carles and Scott in 2005.

The Greens how-to-vote card runs 1. Carles; 2. Sam Wainwright; 3. Jan ter Horst; 4. Carmelo Zagami; 5. Labor; 6. Steve Boni; 7. Nik Varga; 8. Family First; 9. Citizens Electoral Council; 10. Rosemary Anne Lorrimar; 11. Christian Democratic Party.

Greens advertising:

Campaign blog
Fremantle Herald advertisement (full page), May 9
Campaign flyer (front and back)
Campaign flyer (front and back)
Campaign brochure
Campaign pamphlet
Fremantle Herald advertisement (full page), May 2
Fremantle Herald advertisement, April 25

Sam Wainwright. Wainwright is the candidate of the unregistered Socialist Alliance, for which he ran officially as federal candidate for Fremantle in 2007 and unofficially in the state upper house region of South Metropolitan in 2005. The Green Left Weekly describes him as “a wharfie, member of the Maritime Union of Australia and activist in the Fremantle Community Solidarity group”. Wainwright has been running variations on this advertisement around the place, including multiple appearances in the Fremantle Herald. The latest of these instructs voters to number Adele Carles 2, Peter Tagliaferri 3, and to thereafter do as they please.

Fremantle by-election: May 16

This post is being progressively updated to follow events in the campaign for the May 16 by-election in the Western Australian state seat of Fremantle.

Wednesday, May 6

Last night’s by-election forum at Notre Dame University saw a crowd of several hundred assemble to observe and interrogate 10 of the 11 candidates, independent Rosemary Anne Lorrimar having made her apologies. Although a highly entertaining affair, one wonders about the representativeness of an audience that appeared sharply divided between left and right. The former included a lot of very vocal Greens who extended an equally sympathetic hearing to the Socialist Alliance, while the latter consisted of a remarkably well mobilised crowd of Christian Democratic Party supporters. This included state party figurehead Gerard Goiran, who managed to get a question in. If any Labor partisans were present, they kept their thoughts largely to themselves.

As expected, Tagliaferri faced uncomfortable moments over the previous government’s stance on lead carbonate shipments and his own role in the Fremantle Markets stallholders issue, to which he offered practised responses. He also came face-to-face with Australian Services Union secretary Paul Burlinson over the non-union contracts episode, and found himself used as a punching bag for concerns over uranium and GM crops. His least convincing responses related to the Labor how-to-vote card’s placement of the Christian parties ahead of the Greens, and whether he would cross the floor on issues affecting the electorate. On the first count he replied that the only votes he cared about were primary ones – an honest answer would have been that they were keeping the card as simple as possible to reduce the informal vote, and it’s really only of academic interest anyway. The second was despatched with a line of obfuscation about “always putting Fremantle first”. It was a point worth pursuing, because Labor would face an interesting dilemma if Tagaliaferri did anything to warrant disendorsement, given its evident dependence on him to retain the seat.

Adele Carles inevitably had a much easier time, notwithstanding challenges from CDP supporters over drugs and prostitution, to which her responses would have neither won nor lost her any friends. Her strongest moment came when she told the audience they faced a choice between an independent voice and a Labor backbencher, artfully capped off with “sorry Peter”. She also spoke well in opposition to the “Dubai style” North Port Quay development. Her weakest moment came when she essentially told a representative of the Leeuwin tall ship replica project they could have as much money as they liked.

The outstanding performer of the minor candidates was a very articulate Sam Wainwright of the Socialist Alliance. Julie Hollett was almost as forceful in her presentation of the CDP’s case, which wasn’t so very different from Wainwright’s if you focused on the diagnosis (“we are currently grappling with the consequences of an immoral corporate culture guided by greed and self-interest”) rather the cure. Andriétte du Plessis of Family First left rather less of an impression, and was knocked back on a show of hands when she requested that Liberal MP turned party candidate Anthony Fels take her place when she had to leave early.

Riverton real estate agent and independent candidate Nik Varga still hasn’t made much of a case as to why he would like to represent Fremantle in particular, and his most memorable contribution was a candid admission of his Liberal sympathies. On the latter count he is in the same boat as Carmelo Zagami, who offered bona fide Fremantle credentials, anti-Labor rhetoric and a reasonable grab bag of local policy concerns. I don’t know how feasible independent Steve Boni’s showpiece policy of an underground freight transport tunnel is, but he at least sounded like he’d thought it through. Local anti-council crusader Jan ter Holst got quite a few laughs, apparently intentionally, while Rob Totten of the Citizens Electoral Council didn’t win too many converts with his poster demonstrating why global warming was a fraud. The rest of his spiel was the usual Larouchite deal about looming global depression and the need for a national bank to finance humungous national infrastructure projects, Rex Connor-style – which you would have to say sounds less bonkers than it used to.

I recorded proceedings on my mobile phone, but a) it didn’t sound very good, b) I accidentally deleted part of it, and c) I gather the ABC are going to put it up as a podcast in any case.

Tuesday, May 5

The candidates’ forum will be held this evening at Notre Dame University’s Drill Hall (at the Marine Terrace end of Mouat Street) at 7.30pm, hosted by Peter Kennedy of the ABC. If you recognise me, come up and say hi. A Labor mailout has hit the letterbox, featuring this covering letter, this flyer and a pamphlet with a front and back. That gives Labor a 2-0 lead in the mailout war. The Western Patriot has a good update on the campaign, which beats me to a point I had planned on making myself: that the widespread media coverage of union dissent with Tagliaferri might steel homeless Liberals to give him their vote, or at least their preference. Or as Western Patriot commenter Peter Van Insolent puts it: “Labor voters will be voting Green because they don’t want to vote Liberal and Liberal voters will be voting Labor because Labor is Liberal”. Labor might have hoped for better timing on the CPRS backdown, but the federal government obviously has bigger fish to fry than the Fremantle by-election.

Sunday, May 3

The Sunday Times has conducted a dubious sounding “survey” of 200 Fremantle voters, without providing details of how it was conducted. Respondents broke 106 for Peter Tagliaferri and 94 for Adele Carles, evidently without being given the option of nominating minor candidates. Today’s Fremantle May Day rally got a good run on the evening news, being the second story on Ten and the ABC and somewhat further down the order on Nine. Both stories focused on the Australian Services Union’s opposition to Peter Tagliaferri, with union secretary Wayne Wood sharing screen time with Tagliaferri and Eric Ripper.

Saturday, May 2

One clear winner has emerged from the campaign so far – the Fremantle Herald, which is bursting this week with election advertising. The paper has a May Day wraparound with a small ad promoting a Greens fundraiser gig at the Fly By Night Club, which I gather will feature Bob Brown backed by Lucky Oceans and Dave Brewer. Page two of the wraparound features ads from Peter Tagliaferri, Melissa Parke and Rachel Siewert. The front page of the paper proper has the first ad I’ve seen from Sam Wainwright, promoting himself as Socialist Alliance but formally an independent. Page three has a second big ad from independent Carmelo Zagami, who gives away rather more than he did in his first ad, along with a quarter-page Tagliaferri ad I can’t be bothered scanning. Adele Carles’ first full page ad graces page five. Page six has a quarter page ad for independent Jan ter Horst and a second entry from deputy mayor John Dowson, taking a too-clever-by-half dig at Tagliaferri. There’s a half-page Tagliaferri ad on the opposite page, and one from the North Port Quay proponents (which doesn’t mention the by-election) across the bottom halves of pages eight and nine. The same full-page ads as appeared for Nik Varga and Steve Boni in the Fremantle Gazette (see below) are on pages 12 and 15.

As for the news, reporter Jenny D’Anger informs us that Labor’s preference determinations have been designed to make the how-to-vote card easy to follow, with the Greens put second last because that’s where they are on the ballot paper (perhaps Labor might give some thought to backing optional preferential voting). Another report finds D’Anger seeking further unions to add to the one laboratory confirmed and one suspected case of anti-Tagliaferrianism, getting no bite from the Maritime Workers Union and no answer from the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union. The paper also features a vox pop in which plentiful support is to be found for the Greens. It was a similar story on the ABC’s Stateline yesterday (link presumably forthcoming), but perhaps that’s café strips for you.

Thursday, April 30

Julian Grill, lobbying colleague of Brian Burke and minister in his government, says Peter Tagliaferri should be expelled from the party he joined so very recently due to his membership of the Liberal fundraiser group the 500 Club. Tagliaferri says he joined after the Barnett government was elected last year to improve his access to its ministers as Fremantle mayor. Grill’s beef is that he himself was expelled ostensibly for making a donation to the Nationals on behalf of a client. This happened in the lead-up to the 2007 federal election, as Labor nervously contemplated the impact of its association with Grill and Burke. Embarrassment followed when it was revealed that Gary Gray, then candidate and now member for Brand, had also made donations to the Nationals in his capacity as corporate affairs director for Woodside – and that he was, in his own words, “a member of the 500 Club for about three years”.

The West Australian also reports that the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union has “told its members to ignore an ALP email calling on party faithful to march with Mr Tagliaferri and to wear T-shirts expressing Labor support” at the May Day rally in Fremantle this weekend. Its concerns are not shared by another union which Labor has traditionally not been able to rely on – the WA Police Union, whose president Mike Dean says Tagliaferri has been “a strong supporter of police for many years on a number of matters, including on wages claims and local policing issues”.

Two independents have expensive full-page ads in this week’s Fremantle Gazette Community newspaper. Independent candidate and Riverton real estate agent Nik Varga interestingly has the “V” in his name spelled with a tilted Liberal Party logo. However, Varga says he “won’t give my preferences to the Greens” due to his pro-development stance, which presumably means Labor will get them instead. The ad sells Varga as an “Independent with a Liberal voice in a Green wilderness”. One-time Labor candidate Steve Boni has a professional looking effort which like Varga’s expresses support for the North Port Quay project. Frank Calabrese in comments notes that authorisation details for each just show name and suburb – not sure how this stacks up against the Electoral Act’s requirement that the “name and address” be shown. Also in the Fremantle Gazette is an article by Angie Raphael in which the candidates offer brief explanations of what makes them tick.

More axe-grinding from The Western Patriot, which is overdue to start spelling Tagliaferri’s name correctly (UPDATE: WP’s error now corrected.).

Tuesday, April 28

Labor’s postal vote application mailout is hitting Fremantle’s letterboxes, accompanied by this flier. Paul Murray of The West Australian talks up discontent over the Labor credentials of Peter Tagliaferri, who directed preferences to the Liberals as an independent candidate in 1990 and threatened to run against Melissa Parke as an independent at the federal election. Also noted are his “tentative support” for the North Port Quay project, the council’s eviction of Fremantle Markets stallholders and deputy mayor John Dowson’s campaign against him. The article’s star attraction is Ruth Belben, a one-time electorate officer to John Dawkins whose election to council in 1987 prompted Tagliaferri to complain it had become dominated by Labor. Observing that yesterday’s West Australian report focused on a union not affiliated with the ALP, Bule in comments argues: “The real story will be when/if an affiliated union splits to oppose Tagliaferri.”

Monday, April 27

Saturday’s West Australian reported that the Australian Services Union will meet to consider a recommendation by secretary Wayne Wood that it campaign for Adele Carles. The union is unhappy with Peter Tagliaferri because of a Fremantle council non-union pay deal, which Tagliaferri argues he could not legally have involved himself with as it was an operational matter.

Friday, April 24

A candidates’ forum will be held at Notre Dame University’s Drill Hall (at the Marine Terrace end of Mouat Street) at 7.30pm on Tuesday, May 5, hosted by Peter Kennedy of the ABC. The public are invited to submit questions for the candidates to

Fremantle deputy mayor John Dowson has been on the warpath against Tagliaferri, first over his move to extend generous lease terms to the Fremantle Italian Club, now on the interesting terrain of Tagliaferri’s alleged neglect of the council’s “green plan”. Dowson has a quarter-page ad in today’s Fremantle Herald in which he says the plan “has not been updated or seriously fudned in the 8 years since he was elected&#148. Elsewhere in the Herald, Adele Carles gets a photo in on front page while Tagliaferri gets two (both posed with Julia Gillard) on page two. There are two ads for Peter Tagliaferri (the one at the top is from last week’s edition), one for the Greens and one for independent Carmelo Zagami.

Saturday, April 18

Robert Taylor reviews the minor players in his Political Sketch column in today’s West Australian:

There’s Christian Democrat Julia Hollett, who yesterday put out a press release opposing the Greens “agenda to introduce primary school curriculum to teach young children lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex lifestyles”. We can safely assume her preferences will end with Mr Tagliaferri. Then there’s Rosemary Anne Lorrimar, a nurse who blames Mr McGinty for turning her from a private sector employee into a public servant and twice ran for the DLP in the 1960s against Kim Beazley – that’s Beazley Sr. She will be directing preferences to Mr Tagliaferri not the least because the Greens are “more worried about trees and whales than people.” Mr Tagliaferri can also count on pro-development Labor lawyer Steve Boni, a former ALP candidate, for preferences and more than likely will also get Family First’s Andriette DuPlessis’s preferences.

Ms Carles can count on preferences from Sam Wainwright, a wharfie and member of the Socialist Alliance Party whose main platform is that Australia should be 100 per cent reliant on renewable energy by 2020. Ubiquitous Fremantle campaigner Jan Ter Horst should also put a few votes Ms Carles’ way as should Liberal, now independent, Carmelo Zagami. Sketch isn’t quite sure which way the Citizens’ Electoral Council’s Rob Totten will send his preferences but given that he holds a diploma in homepathic ionic therapy, we’re guessing Green.

Taylor concludes that Labor is most likely just “guarding against complacency” with its talk of possible defeat, as “there’s no unpopular Labor government and more importantly no Liberal Party candidate”. A report on last night’s ABC Television news focusing on the nomination of Carmelo Zagami can be viewed online. Gasp in awe at the dashing fellow with the clipboard standing behind Peter Tagliaferri at the ballot paper draw. Here’s a letter from Tagliaferri seeking assistance from Labor members well outside the electorate, passed on to the Poll Bludger by a top-level party insider.

Friday, April 17

District returning officer Tracey Elliott takes care of business

Full list of candidates in ballot paper order, as drawn today at the Electoral Commission’s Spearwood office (to be updated with biographical details as they come to hand):

Nik Varga (Independent).

Rob Totten (Citizens Electoral Council).

Jan ter Horst (Independent). Ter Horst has been making himself known locally with claims of council corruption, which he has publicised by daubing slogans on his house and driving a car with a coffin on top. He has been in long-running dispute with the council over a neighbouring strata development which has blocked his ocean views.

Carmelo Zagami (Independent). The manager of the Fremantle United soccer club, Zagami polled 35.9 per cent as the Liberal candidate for the federal seat of Fremantle in 2004. The ABC reports he is running “to give Fremantle voters a chance to vote for a conservative candidate”, and plans to direct his preferences to the Greens.

Steve Boni (Independent). Described by Robert Taylor of The West Australian as a “pro-development Labor lawyer”, Boni was Labor’s candidate for Roe (which has since been superseded by Eyre) at the 2001 election, running fourth with 16.2 per cent of the vote.

Andriette du Plessis (Family First).

Peter Tagliaferri (Labor). Tagliaferri is a member of a prominent local Italian family, and assumed ownership of its Interfoods cafe in 1983. In that year he became at 23 the youngest person ever elected to local government in Western Australia when he was elected to East ward on Fremantle City Council. He ran as an independent in the 1990 by-election that brought Jim McGinty to the seat, polling 3.6 per cent. In 2001 he was elected mayor, defeating incumbent Richard Utting, and was re-elected in 2005 with 62 per cent of the vote.

Julie Hollett (Christian Democratic Party). Robert Taylor of The West Australian reports Hollett put out a press release on the day nominations closed opposing the Greens’ “agenda to introduce primary school curriculum to teach young children lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex lifestyles”. The CDP put the Greens last at the state election in all but a few seats where it didn’t direct preferences, with the interesting exception of Willagee where Alan Carpenter did the honours.

Rosemary-Anne Lorrimar (Independent). Robert Taylor of The West Australian reports Lorrimar is “a nurse who blames Mr McGinty for turning her from a private sector employee into a public servant”, and that she “will be directing preferences to Mr Tagliaferri not the least because the Greens are ‘more worried about trees and whales than people’.” As Rosemary Taboni, she was a candidate for the Democratic Labor Party three times in the 1970s – against Kim Beazley Sr in 1972, and for the Senate in 1974 and 1975 – and she is presumably also the Rosemary Lorrimar who for the Christian Democratic Party in Willagee in 2005.

Adele Carles (Greens). Carles is a 41-year-old lawyer and resident of South Fremantle. She came to local prominence first as part of the Save South Beach campaign, which opposed a housing development within contentiously close range of the beach’s dunes, and later when she launched a legal challenge against the state government’s plans to dig up a former lead smelter site in South Fremantle. Carles polled 5.8 per cent as an independent running in opposition to the South Beach development in 2005, and surprised most observers by scoring 27.6 per cent when nominated by the Greens in 2008 – more than 10 per cent higher than former MPs Ian Alexander and Jim Scott had achieved in 2001 and 2005, and 6.0 per cent higher than the combined vote of Carles and Scott in 2005.

Sam Wainwright. Wainwright is the candidate of the unregistered Socialist Alliance, for which he ran officially as federal candidate for Fremantle in 2007 and unofficially in the state upper house region of South Metropolitan in 2005. The Green Left Weekly describes him as “a wharfie, member of the Maritime Union of Australia and activist in the Fremantle Community Solidarity group”.

Thursday, April 16

Only one more shopping day to go before the closure of nominations and ballot paper draw. Considerable media attention has been given this week to Peter Tagliaferri’s determination to stay on as mayor until his term expires in October. Deputy mayor John Dowson is quoted by the Fremantle Cockburn Gazette saying he should stand down if elected, while Amanda Banks of The West Australian relates that Tagliaferri’s predecessor as mayor, Richard Utting, has joined Adele Carles in calling on him to stand down during the by-election campaign. The issue also got a run on last night’s ABC television news. Today’s West features a lengthy opinion piece on the by-election by Paul Murray – a link will hopefully be forthcoming.

Sunday, April 12

The Western Patriot, a feisty new Perth news and opinion site published by former Labor staffers John Theodorsen and Nathan Hondros, identifies a “sleeper” local issue:

12,000 people signed a petition to save Kel Smith’s Carriage Café on the Fremantle Esplanade. Kel’s café has funneled caffeine to exhausted parents near Fremantle’s best playground for the better part of three decades. Many of Kel’s signatories would not be local, but the famous Freo gossip mill puts the City of Fremantle’s plans to bulldoze the café down to lobbying by Camellia Holdings Pty Ltd, the owner of the Esplanade Hotel. This issue is niggling for locals, many of whom are fond of the owners of this small but vital business.

Friday, April 10

The writ for the by-election was issued yesterday, making official May 16 as polling day. Nominations close at noon next Friday (a day earlier for party candidates), with the ballot paper draw to follow and the roll to close at 6pm that evening. The complete timeline for the by-election can be viewed here.

Brendan Foster of the Fremantle Herald reports:

Both the Greens’ Adele Carles and Labor’s Peter Tagliaferri want rail extended south of Fremantle but Ms Carles wants light rail too, extended throughout the metro area. Mr Tagliaferri says moving the port to Kwinana will cost jobs and he’ll fight it … “In particular we need a rail from Fremantle, through South Beach to Port Coogee&#148 (Carles said). Mr Tagliaferri, born and bred in Fremantle, laughed off suggestions by Ms Carles, a South Freo resident, that he would be too Freo-centric, ignoring the outlying suburbs of the electorate in Cockburn and the fringes of Melville.

Thursday, April 9

The ABC reports the Liberals have decided to sit this one out. Obviously they don’t think they’re travelling so well in Fremantle that they could repeat Labor’s feat in the New South Wales seat of Clarence in 1996, when the Nationals-held seat fell to Bob Carr’s promising young government with a 14.0 per cent swing (the margin in Fremantle is 12.0%) – though admittedly this was achieved with a popular candidate who until recently served the area at federal level. Antony Green has a comprehensive guide to the by-election with more historical detail than you can poke a stick at.

Wednesday, April 8

The ABC reports Colin Barnett saying that “while some in the Liberal Party will be keen to run against Labor, he sees it as a distraction for the Government”. The party will discuss whether to field a candidate tonight. Should they require a primer on the subject, Antony Green has written a comprehensive overview of the pros and cons of running by-election candidates in safe seats.

Tuesday, April 7

Labor’s administration committee has unanimously chosen Peter Tagliaferri as its candidate from a field of three nominees, the other two being the aforementioned Keith McCorriston and local branch member David Hume.

Green Left Weekly says the unregistered Socialist Alliance has announced its candidate will be Sam Wainwright, “a wharfie, member of the Maritime Union of Australia and activist in the Fremantle Community Solidarity group”. Wainwright ran for the Socialist Alliance in the federal seat of Fremantle in 2007 and the upper house region of South Metropolitan at the 2005 state election.

Monday, April 6

The grapevine reports that Keith McCorriston nominated for Labor preselection today, ahead of the closure of nominations at 4pm tomorrow. McCorriston is president of the party’s Fremantle branch and an official with the Maritime Union of Australia, which is obviously influential in the portside electorate – although that probably won’t count for much if as expected the preselection is decided by the party’s administration committee. McCorriston is also said to have backing from “some of the other blue-collar Left unions”, but a decisive-sounding combination of the Right unions and McGinty’s Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union has lined up behind Peter Tagliaferri (the Cockburn City Herald reports McGinty has described Tagliaferri as an “excellent candidate with ministerial potential”). However, one might speculate on the possibility of a union-backed independent spoiler emerging, such as helped deliver the federal seat of Cunningham to the Greens at a by-election in 2002. The West Australian reported this morning that the Liberals are still keeping their options open, with the better part of three weeks to go before nominations close. Greens MLC Giz Watson is encouraging them to enter the fray.

Saturday, April 4

The West Australian reports Peter Tagliaferri has gone back on an earlier threat to stand as an independent if he does not win Labor preselection. Joe Poprzeczny at WA Business News reports there are also rumours surrounding the imminent departure of John Kobelke, whose margin in his northern suburbs seat of Balcatta was slashed from 9.3 per cent to 2.3 per cent at the election. However, the rumour seems to be that the departure is not immediately imminent, but will rather coincide with a change of leadership ahead of the federal election and Alannah MacTiernan’s tilt at the Liberal-held federal seat of Canning, allowing for simultaneous by-elections in Balcatta and MacTiernan’s safe Labor seat of Armadale.

Here is my piece from yesterday’s Crikey Daily Mail:

The lid was officially lifted overnight on the worst-kept secret in Western Australian politics: the resignation of Left faction powerbroker, senior front-bencher and one-time Opposition Leader Jim McGinty. The announcement comes six weeks before the May 16 daylight saving referendum, and has obviously been timed so the resulting by-election can be held on the same day.

While this will limit the backlash that usually occurs when voters are dragged to the polling booths mid-term, Labor is by no means out of jail. Like its federal counterpart, McGinty’s electorate of Fremantle has traditionally been a stronghold for Labor, which has held the seat without interruption since 1924. However, a significant demographic shift in recent decades has seen the port city’s waterside workers and migrant communities make way for an assortment of alternative lifestylers, café dwellers, university students and bong shop proprietors.

While this mixture had long made the electorate a strong source of support for the Greens, few anticipated the strength of their candidate’s performance at last September’s state election. Adele Carles picked up a swing of over 10 per cent on the primary vote, and appeared on track early in the count to overtake the Liberal candidate and defeat McGinty on preferences. Carles ultimately finished in third place 3.4 per cent behind the Liberals, but the result made it clear that Labor could no longer take Fremantle for granted, particularly in the context of a by-election.

The Labor hierarchy has recognised its weakness by courting a non-party member in Peter Tagliaferri, who has been mayor of Fremantle since 2001. This trod on the toes of various union officials, reportedly including McGinty’s successor at the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, Dave Kelly. While Keith McCorriston of the Maritime Union of Australia could recently be heard musing about his options, it appears all but certain that Tagliaferri will be endorsed in coming weeks by the party’s administrative committee. The Greens meanwhile have conducted a pre-emptive preselection which saw Carles win endorsement without opposition.

The Liberals are remaining coy as to whether they will go to the effort of fielding a candidate. While they could reasonably plead that running in a seat with Fremantle’s track record would not be worth the expense, they might care to recall that they cut the margin below five per cent at the 1990 by-election that brought Jim McGinty to the seat. However, the Barnett government hasn’t been making too many friends locally with its plan to allow Magellan Metals to transport lead carbonate through the port, after a similar operation in Esperance was linked to widespread contamination and the deaths of thousands of birds. A more realistic consideration is whether they would harm the Greens by giving them a hurdle to clear for second place, or help them by marshalling the votes of supporters who dutifully follow the how-to-vote card.

The word from the Labor camp is that polling shows local supporters are so angry that last year’s botched early election delivered government to the hated Coalition that they are of a mind to punish the party further with a protest vote. The story goes that Labor are by no means assured of victory over the Greens even with Tagliaferri in their corner, and would be gone for all money without him.

Below is a chart mapping the primary vote in Fremantle going back to 1974, when John Tonkin’s one-term Labor government was defeated by the Charles Court-led Coalition. There have of course been redistributions over this time, but they have had little effect on Fremantle, whose northern and western boundaries have remained defined by the Swan River and the ocean. The one-vote one-value redistribution ahead of the last election slightly weakened Labor by removing working class areas in the electorate’s far south and increasing the potency of Greens support around the city centre, but even this only reduced Labor from 44.9 per cent to 43.8 per cent and boosted the Greens from 15.8 per cent to 17.1 per cent (as calculated by Antony Green). Labor’s slump in 1989 resulted from the independent candidacy of John Troy, who held the seat from 1977 to 1980 when he was rolled for preselection by David Parker (no doubt explaining the slight dip in Labor’s vote in 1980). The Labor primary vote fell further at the 1990 by-election held when Parker made way for Jim McGinty after the WA Inc catastrophe cost him the deputy premiership. Among the Melbourne Cup field on that occasion was one Pietro Tagliaferri, who polled 645 votes (3.62 per cent) as an independent.


Friday, April 3

The lid has officially been lifted on the worst-kept secret in Western Australian politics: the resignation of Left faction powerbroker, senior front-bencher and one-time Opposition Leader Jim McGinty. This will result in a by-election in the Poll Bludger’s very own electorate of Fremantle. While the timing of the by-election remains at the discretion of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, it can be taken for granted that it will be held in conjunction with the May 16 daylight savings referendum. Fremantle has been in Labor hands since 1924 and is in no danger from the Liberals, but it nonetheless looms as a fascinating contest due to the strong performance at last year’s state election by Greens candidate Adele Carles, who fell 3.4 per cent short of overtaking the Liberals and winning the seat on their preferences. Carles has already been endorsed as the Greens candidate for the by-election, while Labor is considered all but certain to nominate Fremantle mayor Peter Tagliaferri. Much, much more to follow, including a piece in today’s Crikey Daily Mail.

Murdoch by-election live

7.58pm. Notional preference count now up to half, producing no change worth mentioning.

7.54pm. Notional distribution of preferences, based on a bit less than a quarter of the vote, gives a Liberal-versus-Greens two-party preferred of 69.5-30.5.

7.51pm. I speak too soon: Murdoch University now in. Only 478 votes, so not sure what took them so long. This turns out to be a good booth for the Greens, which stands to reason, pushing their vote back up to 26.3 per cent.

7.46pm. The only outstanding booths from 2005 are North Lake Senior Campus, which is located in neighbouring Willagee, and the tiny Murdoch University car park booth, which they probably haven’t bothered with this time. So that might be it for the evening. Congratulations then to Christian Porter, former Poll Bludger classmate and (by all accounts) soon-to-be Shadow Attorney-General.

7.41pm. The addition of another booth has reduced the Greens vote from 26.4 per cent to 26.0 per cent.

7.35pm. Welcome to my half-arsed live coverage of the Murdoch by-election, held today to fill the vacancy in the Perth southern suburbs state seat following the death of Liberal member Trevor Sprigg. With a field consisting of Liberal candidate Christian Porter plus candidates from the Greens, Christian Democratic Party and One Nation, the result is a foregone conclusion, so feel free to consider this an open thread on Western Australian politics. We’ve now got nine of 12 booths in, and the Greens might be pleased with their 26.4 per cent share of the vote. However, Porter is obviously home and hosed with 63.0 per cent.