BludgerTrack: 55.0-45.0 to Coalition

A poor showing for Labor in the latest Morgan poll combined with a static Essential Research result have halted the weak momentum to Labor in the BludgerTrack poll aggregate.

A relatively quiet week for national polling, with two new results available for the BludgerTrack update:

• The weekly Morgan multi-mode poll, this time enlisting 3418 respondents from its combination of face-to-face, online and SMS polling, recorded a sharp uptick for the Coalition, up four on last week’s primary vote result to 48% with Labor down two to 30.5% and the Greens up half a point to 11%. That came out particularly bruisingly on Morgan’s headline respondent-allocated two-party preferred calculation, which showed the Coalition lead blowing out from 54.5-45.5 to 58-42. The result on 2010 election preferences was a milder 56.5-43.5, compared with 54-46 last time.

Essential Research is perfectly unchanged for the second week in a row, with Labor on 34%, the Coalition on 48% and the Greens on 9%, with the Coalition lead at 55-45. It finds a seven point drop since last June in respondents who think the economy is heading in the right direction, to 36%, and has 38% expecting the budget to be bad for them personally against 12% good and 38% neutral. Respondents were also asked about preferred revenue-raising measures, with “higher taxes for corporations” towering above the pack on 64%. Reducing tax breaks for higher income earners was net positive (45% approve, 38% disapprove), but reductions in the baby bonus and family tax and any spending cuts were rated negatively. It was also found that 45% believed population growth too fast, 37% about right and only 5% too slow.

The impact of the new Morgan multi-mode series on the current BludgerTrack modelling is still very slight, although this will begin to change as more data becomes available for assessing its performance. For now the result on national voting intention is little changed on last week, bringing an end to three weeks of movement to Labor. The availability of new state-level data from Essential Research has sent Labor back two on the seat projection by weakening their position in New South Wales and Western Australia.

Two doses of preselection news:

• The Australian reports on four contenders to fill Barnaby Joyce’s Queensland Senate vacancy, which he will formally create at the start of the election campaign period to facilitate his run in New England. The candidates are Barry O’Sullivan, who has stood aside as the treasurer of the LNP while he considers whether to run; David Farley, Australian Agricultural Company managing director, who caused a brief stir last August when he suggested the Prime Minister was a “non-productive old cow” who might be put to use at an abattoir he was spruiking; Larry Anthony, famously well pedigreed former member the north coast New South Wales seat of Richmond; and Ray Brown, mayor of Western Downs. Mentioned elsewhere were Theresa Craig, a down-list candidate on the LNP Senate ticket; Susan McDonald, “daughter of former National Party president Don McDonald and a member of a family cattle dynasty”; Kerry Latter, chief executive of Mackay Canegrowers; and Julie Boyd, former mayor of Mackay. The preselection will be held on May 25, despite the view of some that the matter be left until after the election to give unsuccessful lower house candidates an opportunity to run. Steven Scott of the Courier-Mail reported “senior members of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s team” were of a similar mind, although his public position is in line with that of the LNP state executive.

• Anna Patty of the Sydney Morning Herald reports Labor in New South Wales is “under growing pressure to intervene in the preselection of a candidate for the federal seat of Throsby”. Head office has apparently held off so far to give incumbent Stephen Jones a chance to shore up his local numbers, but the upper hand has remained with local Right forces associated with state Wollongong MP Noreen Hay. This grouping now wants the seat for one of its own, something it has long been denied by a centrally enforced factional arrangement reserving Throsby for Anthony Albanese’s “hard Left” faction. This time however, state secretary Sam Dastyari has been insistent in promising a local ballot. Andrew Crook of Crikey hears the local rebellion is opposed by more senior figures in the Right, who have been “hitting the phones to demand Hay forces back down or face brutal retaliation in the form of damaging media leaks that could cut short the Wollongong MP’s controversial career”. The putative challenger is John Rumble, a local nurse and son of former state MP Terry Rumble. Stephen Fitzpatrick of The Australian reported a fortnight ago that Rumble had not definitively secured the crucial support of Hay, who suggested a third candidate might emerge. Former state Kiama MP Matt Brown, who was sacked as a state government minister in 2008 over an affair that involved him dancing in his underwear in his parliamentary office, told The Australian he had been asked to stand by “branch members”.

Finally, the final results are in from the Western Australian election, with indicative Liberal-versus-Labor two-party preferred counts completed for seats where other parties or candidates made the final count in the formal preference distribution. This reveals that the final two-party preferred vote for the Liberals was 57.2%, a swing in their favour of 5.4%. It should be emphasised that the two-party preferred concept is complicated in Western Australia by the large number of highly competitive contests involving the Liberals and the Nationals, which raises the question of whether Labor-versus-Liberal or Labor-versus-Nationals counts should be used for the electorates in questions. The AEC’s practice has been to use the Nationals count where the party wins the seat, but the WAEC favours Labor-versus-Liberal counts which tend to be somewhat more favourable for Labor. Antony Green has used the Labor-versus-Nationals count for Pilbara to preserve continuity with the calculation for the 2008 election, at which no Labor-versus-Liberal count for Pilbara was conducted. The two-party preferred numbers cited below are entirely from Labor-versus-Liberal counts.

March 9, 2013

			#	 %	Change	Seats	Change	
Liberal			559,917	 47.1%	+8.7%	31 	+7	
Nationals		71,694	 6.1%	+1.2%	7 	+3	
Labor			392,470	 33.1%	-2.7%	21 	-7	
Greens			99,437	 8.4%	-3.5%		
Independent		34,467	 2.9%	-1.5%		-3	
Australian Christians	21,451	 1.8%	-0.8%		
Family First		7,039	 0.6%	-1.4%		

			#	 		%	Change
Formal			1,184,475		94.0%	-0.7%
Informal		75,577			6.0%	+0.7%
Enrolment/Turnout	1,412,533   		89.2%	+2.7%

Two-party preferred
Liberal			677,231			57.2%	+5.4%
Labor			506,623			42.8%	-5.4%

			#	 %	Change	Seats	Change	
Liberal			583,500	 47.6%	+8.0%	17	+1  	
Nationals		59,804	 4.9%	-0.4%	5	-   	
Labor			398,260	 32.5%	-3.6%	11	-   	
Greens			100,624	 8.2%	-2.9%	2	-2  	
Australian Christians	23,877	 2.0%	-0.3%
Shooters & Fishers	21,765	 1.8%		1	+1  	
Independent		20,633	 1.7%	+0.2%
Family First		16,760	 1.4%	-1.1%

			#	 		%	Change	
Formal			1,225,223	 	97.2%	0.0%
Informal		35,706		 	2.8%	0.0%
Enrolment/Turnout	1,412,533	 	89.3%	+2.7%

WA election: late counting

To be updated with details of late counting in the Western Australian election, with five seats in the lower house and three in the upper still in varying degrees of doubt.

Upper house count: Tuesday, March 19

The buttons are being pressed on the upper house count, and the only remaining seat in doubt has been determined: the Nationals, not Shooters & Fishers, won the final seat in Mining & Pastoral. That makes the final numbers in the upper house Liberal 17, Nationals 5, Labor 11, Greens 2, Shooters & Fishers 1. The only point at issue is now the recount in Midland, which is currently proceeding and will be finalised later today.

UPDATE: Midland recount favours Michelle Roberts by 24 votes, compared with the initial count’s 23. Lower house final score: Liberal 31, Nationals, 7, Labor 21.

Collie-Preston recount: Monday, March 18

The recount which is routinely offered when the margin is below 100 votes has confirmed Mick Murray’s victory in Collie-Preston, by 56 votes compared with the original 59. The Midland recount will be conducted tomorrow. Data entry for the upper house counts has also been completed and the button will be pressed for each of the six contests tomorrow, on a schedule to run as follows: Agricultural 11am, South West 11.30am, Mining & Pastoral 12.00, South Metropolitan 12.30pm, North Metropolitan 1pm, East Metropolitan 1.30pm.

Preference counts: Saturday, March 16

With the primary vote scrutiny completed and preference counts to be conducted today, I’m drawing a line under the earlier part of the post below and starting up a new section where I will report the preference results as they are published.

1am. The preference distribution turned up a few anomalies in Midland and Collie-Preston, but not so as to reverse Labor’s wins. In Midland an existing margin of 49 came out as 23, while in Collie-Preston a 20 vote margin blew out to 59. The margins being below 100, recounts loom in each. Should the current results stand, the numbers in parliament will be 31 for the Liberals, 21 for Labor and 7 for the Nationals. Preference distributions have been published for 13 seats, including most of the interesting ones:

Albany: 10,957 to Labor member Peter Watson and 10,094 to Liberal candidate Trevor Cosh. Final margin 2.0%, swing to Labor 1.8%.

Collie-Preston: 10,105 to Labor member Mick Murray and 10,046 to Liberal candidate Jaimee Motion. Final margin 0.1%, swing to Liberal 3.7%.

Kimberley: 6,254 to Labor candidate Josie Farrer and 5,100 to Liberal candidate Jenny Bloom. Final margin 5.1%, swing to Liberal 1.7%. A precondition for Labor’s win was that they remain ahead of the Greens after the distribution of Nationals preferences, which they did by a margin of 3,605 to 3,241.

Kwinana: 11,783 to Labor member Roger Cook and 10,633 to independent candidate Carol Adams. Margin: 2.6%, swing to Labor 1.8%.

Midland: 10,141 to Labor member Michelle Roberts and 10,118 to Liberal candidate Daniel Parasiliti. Margin: 0.1%, swing to Liberal 8.2%.

Moore: 11,299 to Nationals candidate Shane Love and 8,932 to Liberal candidate Chris Wilkins. Margin 5.9%, swing to Nationals 2.8%.

Morley: 10,889 to Liberal member Ian Britza and 9,003 to Labor candidate Reece Whitby. Margin 4.7%, swing to Liberal 3.9%.

Warren-Blackwood: 11,769 to Nationals member Terry Redman and 10,393 to Liberal candidate Ray Collyer. Margin 3.1%, swing to Liberal 7.1%.

7pm. Final result in Belmont is 9,376 to Liberal candidate Glenys Godfrey and 9,046 to Labor candidate Cassie Rowe. Final margin 0.9%, swing to Liberal 7.6%. I have to go out now, so unfortunately I’ll miss most of the fun.

6.30pm. Sam O’Keefe of the ABC now reports Mick Murray has prevailed in Collie-Preston by “just under 60 votes”. The indicative count being nearly 40 votes out might suggest Michelle Roberts isn’t home and hosed and Midland, where she led by 49 votes.

6pm. Final result in Eyre is 7,203 to Liberal member Graham Jacobs and 7,078 to Nationals candidate Colin de Grussa. Final margin 0.4%, swing to Nationals 3.0%.

5pm. Nothing further on the site, but ABC journalist Sam O’Keefe relates Graham Jacobs has won Eyre by 125 votes. This is seven votes different from what the indicative count said.

3.30pm. Final result in Central Wheatbelt is 11,168 to Nationals candidate Mia Davies and 8,109 to Liberal candidate Stephen Strange. Final margin 7.9%, swing to Liberal 10.9%.


See below for further commentary on individual seats.

Friday. Small parcels of votes have been added for Collie-Preston in Midland, and Mick Murray’s lead is down from 27 to 20 while Michelle Roberts’ lead is down from 54 to 49. That I believe is it, so only the discovery of anomalies can change the results. Such might emerge during the preference counts tomorrow, or the recounts which are offered where margins are less than 100 votes.

Thursday (11pm). There have been only a handful of extra votes added in Midland since the morning update. The WAEC advises that “hundreds” of postal votes which arrived up to today’s deadline remain to be admitted to the count, which obviously amounts to very few per electorate. We’ll find out tomorrow. In the upper house, the Greens are now looking good to retain their seats in Mining & Pastoral and especially South Metropolitan, while below-the-line votes will determine whether Shooters & Fishers score a second seat at the Nationals’ expense in Mining & Pastoral.

Thursday (11am). Liberal member Graham Jacobs has seized the lead in Eyre, the lead snatched by Labor’s Mick Murray in Collie-Preston has worn perilously thin, and the lead for Labor’s Michelle Roberts in Midland is down from 76 to 60.

Wednesday. Updates for the day’s counting in the four in-doubt lower house and two upper house seats added below. Labor has easily won the two-party count in Kimberley and Mick Murray has snatched the lead in Collie-Preston, so if Michelle Roberts’ 76-vote lead holds, Labor will win 21 seats. In Eyre, Graham Jacobs has cut the margin from 64 to 22 – should he fall short, the Liberals will emerge with the barest majority of 30 seats.

Tuesday. With Belmont definitively in the Liberal column, doubt remains over Midland, where Michelle Roberts is hanging by a thread; Collie-Preston, where Liberal candidate Jaimee Motion looks likely to defeat Labor member Mick Murray; Eyre, where Nationals challenger Colin de Grussa’s tiny lead over Liberal member Graham Jacobs has stubbornly failed to erode; and Kimberley, where all will be revealed when the WAEC publishes its indicative two-party count in the morning. Excluding those four, there are 30 seats for the Liberals, 18 for Labor and seven for the Nationals. Two upper house races remain of interest, those being the two chances the Greens have of retaining seats. In South Metropolitan, Lynn MacLaren grapples with third Labor candidate Anne Wood, while in Mining & Pastoral a second “left” seat could go to Robin Chapple or Labor number two Jim Murie. There is also a chance Shooters & Fishers will win one of the four “right” seats at the expense of a second National.

Monday (11pm). The Liberals are now decisively ahead in Belmont and have Collie-Preston all but in the bag, which advances them to 31 and reduces Labor’s best-case scenario to 20. Antony Green is all but calling Kimberley for Labor after a strong showing on the remote booths, but I wouldn’t be giving anything away until tomorrow’s preference count. Midland and Eyre are both down to the wire.

Monday. With the publication of a preference count yesterday showing Warren-Blackwood certain to stay with Nationals incumbent Terry Redman, I’m seeing five seats still in doubt: Belmont and Midland, traditionally safe Labor city seats where Labor is respectively slightly behind and slightly ahead; the regional seat of Collie-Preston, where Labor’s Mick Murray will struggle to keep his head above water in late counting; the regional seat of Eyre, where Liberal member Graham Jacobs is grappling with a strong challenge from the Nationals, and Kimberley, which the murky situation will become a lot clearer when the WAEC conducts a Liberal-versus-Labor preference flow tomorrow. That comes off a base of 29 seats for the Liberals, seven for the Nationals and 18 for Labor. So while you could entertain the notion that the Liberals don’t have a majority in the bag, they would have to be extraordinarily unlucky not to win any of the five seats which are still in play, and there’s a good chance they will win all of them. Labor’s unlikely best case scenario is 22 seats, while the Nationals will win either seven or eight depending on how Eyre goes.


Tuesday (3.30pm). ABC computer calls it for Liberal with a lead of 321. I’m unlikely to have anything further to say about this seat.

Monday (9pm). Another 482 absent votes, 307 pre-polls and 153 postals have added another 54 votes to what looks an unassailable 299-vote Liberal lead.

Monday. Rechecking of booth votes and the addition of 1036 absents, 799 pre-polls and 197 postals has done roughly what the ABC computer projected it would, turning a 74-vote lead for Labor’s Cassie Rowe into a 245-vote lead for Liberal candidate Glenys Godfrey. Rechecking of primary votes has interestingly pushed the informal vote up from 788 to 1014, although that hasn’t particularly been of advantage to either party. There should be about another 800 absent votes to come and the attendant trickle of postals.


Friday (5pm). Five more pre-polls break 3-2 to Murray, putting his lead at 20, and that’s your lot.

Friday (1.30pm). Sixty-eight votes have now been added to the two-party count and they’ve broken 38-30 to the Liberal, reducing the margin to 19.

Friday (1pm). Just 15 provisional votes added, but they’ve gone probably 12-3 to the Liberal after preferences. This likely reduces the lead to the teens on the preference count, which remains to be updated.

Friday (11.30am). Thirty postals and 30 absents have been added to the primary but not the two-party count, going 21 Labor, 21 Liberal, four each for Greens and Nationals, two for the independent and one for Family First, which won’t do much to disturb the current 27-vote lead.

Thursday (11am). Still agonisingly close, with 274 pre-polls and 115 absents wearing 53 votes away from Mick Murray’s lead to reduce the margin to 27.

Wednesday (8pm). A big day for Mick Murray who snatched a lead of nearly 100 in the morning’s counting. This resulted from the addition of 359 pre-polls which I presume to have been from Collie, as 259 of them were for Murray against 90 for Liberal candidate Jaimee Motion. The 692 votes added this afternoon saw Motion claw it back to 80, for a gain to Murray of 164 over the day’s counting.

Tuesday (7pm). Mick Murray has closed the gap slightly with the addition of 116 votes breaking 79-37 his way, reducing Jaimee Motion’s lead from 126 to 84.

Tuesday (1pm). The drift away from Mick Murray continues with booth vote re-checking and the addition of 341 absents, 46 postals and five pre-polls, with Jaimee Motion now leading by 136 votes.

Monday. The addition of 833 absents, 176 pre-polls and 115 postals has strongly favoured Liberal candidate Jaimee Motion over Labor incumbent Mick Murray. On the published two-party figure she has turned a deficit of 62 into a lead of 6, but the primary count is ahead of the two-party and with the addition of the extra vote I’m projecting Motion’s lead to increase to 115. Over 1000 absent votes form the bulk of the outstanding count, and these have so far been favouring Motion 55.5-44.5.


Thursday (11am). Finally the cavalry arrives for Graham Jacobs in the shape of 935 absent votes breaking 510-358 his way (the WAEC advises these were the absent votes cast in the Kalgoorlie electorate). That turns a 22 vote deficit into a 130 vote lead, which very likely decides the result.

Wednesday (8pm). There were 665 votes added today (333 absent, 275 pre-poll and 20 postal – not sure why so many pre-polls are still being counted), and they have gone 330-297 in favour of Liberal, reducing the margin to 22 votes. We’ve already had more non-polling booth votes than in 2008, although 436 fewer absent votes, so there are presumably a few left to be counted there.

Tuesday (10pm). If past patterns are reflected, the issue should be decided by about 800 outstanding absent votes. Jacobs would need 53.5% of 800 votes to close a 55-vote gap. So far he has received 51.6% of the 631 absent votes counted, but batches of absent votes can be variable depending on where they are cast.

Tuesday (1pm). Colin de Grussa’s lead over Graham Jacobs remains stubbornly intact with the addition of 174 pre-polls, 164 absents and 104 postals, up from 17 to 62. This interruption to the slow pro-Jacobs trend would seem to be down to the batch of absents coming from a strong area for the Nationals. About half the absent votes will now have been counted, with those admitted so far having favoured Jacobs by about 23 votes. A surprising number of postals have been received (1002 compared with 521 in 2008).

Monday. This is still going down to the wire, with rechecking of booth votes and the addition of 475 absents, 204 pre-polls and 48 postals wearing down Nationals candidate Colin de Grussa’s lead over Liberal incumbent Graham Jacobs from 74 votes to 14. There should be 1000 absent votes and a few other dribs and drabs still to come.


Wednesday (8pm). Labor’s Josie Farrer did it very easily indeed in the notional preference count against Liberal candidate Jenny Bloom, winning 5316 to 3821 (58.2% to 42.8%). This would have required quite a few preferences from the Nationals in addition to a strong flow from the Greens. There remains the theoretical possibility that the Greens will finish ahead of Labor after the distribution of Nationals preferences and Labor will not in fact make it through to the final count, but I’d say that can be safely discounted.

Tuesday (5.30pm). The WAEC advises its notional two-party candidate to show who will win out of Labor and Liberal (I presume it’s well established they will be the last two candidates) in Kimberley will continue into the night, and may not be known until first thing tomorrow morning.

Monday (9pm). Labor has received a fillip from the counting of remote booths, not so much in terms of their share of the vote which seems roughly unchanged on 2008 at about 75-25 in their favour, but because the number of votes cast is up from 1468 to 1766. This amounts to handy boost in a close contest for an electorate where barely 10,000 votes are recorded. Labor’s Josie Farrar now leads on the primary vote 27.6% against 24.8% for Liberal Jenny Bloom, and Antony Green’s preference projection – which I take to be based on informed speculation – has her 1.4% ahead on two-party preferred. Electoral Commissioner Warwick Gately spoke today of the difficulty the WAEC would face in deciding which candidates to choose for a two-candidate count, but that looks a little clearer now: Labor looks sure to stay ahead of the Greens after Nationals and minor preferences are distributed.

Monday. Labor’s vote should increase with the addition of around 1300 “special institutions, hospitals and remotes” (mostly the latter in Kimberley’s case), but for the time being, 271 postals, 138 absents, 47 pre-polls and 95 hospital and remote votes have gone heavily against them. However, until the WAEC publishes its indicative preference count tomorrow, we’re essentially flying blind.


Friday (5pm). The primary vote count wraps up with 21 postals and 5 provisionals, breaking 14-10 to Liberal and reducing the margin to 49.

Friday (1.30pm). Another seven absent votes have been added and the two-party count has been brought up to speed, with the 31 votes added today breaking 16-15 to Liberal for an overall Labor margin of 53.

Friday (11.30am). What I presume to be the final batch of postals amounts to 25, which have gone Liberal 12, Labor 6, Greens 4 and Australian Christians 2. They are yet to be added to the two-party tally, but will obviously make very little difference to the 54-vote lead.

Thursday (11pm). Just 25 further pre-polls added, cutting Roberts’ lead to 54.

Thursday (11am). Another 127 postal votes breaks 66-50 to Liberal, reducing Michelle Roberts’ margin to 60.

Wednesday (8pm). Michelle Roberts now leads by 76 after today’s counting added 449 absents, 51 postals and 24 provisionals. The first batch of these broke 180-155 against Roberts, and the second broke 86-73 in her favour.

Tuesday (3.30pm). There have been a further 193 absents and 47 postals added to the primary count, and both this batch and the one mentioned in the previous entry have been added as two-party votes. This sees Michelle Roberts’ lead increase by a solitary vote, from 87 to 88.

Tuesday (1pm). 115 absent votes have been added to the primary but not the two-party count and they will add another coat of paint to Michelle Roberts’ lead, having gone 40 Liberal, 40 Labor, 23 Greens and 4 Australian Christians.

Monday (9pm). A further 163 absents and 117 postals have been added and the two-party count brought up to speed, and Michelle Roberts’ lead is down to 87 votes. If the last election is any guide, there should be 1000 absent votes outstanding, and if they behave the same way as the absent votes already counted, Daniel Parasiliti will claw back about 50 votes. So still very much too close to call.

Monday. 708 pre-polls, 671 absents and 218 postals have slightly favoured Labor’s Michelle Roberts, whose lead is up from 142 to 172. However, about 1200 absent votes will provide most of the count to be conducted, and these are so far favouring Liberal candidate Daniel Parasiliti by about 53.7-46.3, which matches the trend of the 2008 result.


Thursday (11pm). With what must be fairly close to the final result on the primary vote count, it appears Lynn MacLaren has held on for a status quo result of three Liberal, two Labor and one Greens. MacLaren’s lead over the third Labor candidate at the final exclusion is now at 9.42% to 8.29%, up from 9.29% to 8.36% yesterday.

Wednesday (9pm). At the point of the crucial final exclusion, the Greens vote continues to gently descend, while the Labor vote bounces around. The ABC computer is calling it for whichever of the two happens to be ahead at the time. Usually it’s the Greens, the present margin being 9.29% to 8.36%. Australian Christians are back up in today’s counting to a new peak of 10.92%, so the chance of them finishing behind both Labor and the Greens (in which case the Greens would win) is diminishing.

Tuesday (11pm). Now the ABC has MacLaren back in the seat because of Labor dropping from 9.93% to 8.98%, putting them just behind the Greens who go from 9.24% to 9.20%. However, there’s also bad news for the Greens in that Australian Christians are back up from 9.41% to 10.39%.

Tuesday (5pm). The ABC computer is now projecting defeat for the Greens and a result of three Liberal, three Liberal. Where MacLaren had led 9.40% to 8.64% at the second last exclusion previously, Labor is now up to 9.93% while MacLaren is down 9.24%. However, the Australian Christians are fading too, down from 10.53% to 9.41% at the same point in the count. Their exclusion would unlock preferences from Liberal and – would you believe it – Shooters & Fishers, which would deliver the seat to MacLaren ahead of Labor.

Monday. A weakening in Lynn MacLaren’s position has revived the possibility of a three Liberal, three Labor result, as opposed than my election night reading of three Liberal, two Labor one Greens. At that time the ABC computer had MacLaren leading the third Labor candidate 9.67% to 8.17% at count 12, causing Labor to drop out and their preferences to deliver the third left seat to the Greens. But with the count advancing from 48.8% to 53.6%, MacLaren is down to 9.40% and Labor is up to 8.64%.


Thursday (11pm). Greens member Robin Chapple’s lead over Labor for the second left seat is 8.83% to 8.12%, which slender as it is will most likely be enough. The race for the fourth right seat will be interesting, with Shooters & Fishers prevailing over the Nationals on the ABC projection 14.83% to 13.74%. However, that does not account for leakage from below-the-line votes, which will drain away at least some of the vast flow of preferences to Shooters & Fishers. Yesterday I said that would win it for the Nationals, but after observing past patterns of vote leakage, now I’m not so sure.

Wednesday (9pm). With the total count up from 46,336 to 54,249 (75.7% of the electoral roll, compared with a 71.6% turnout in 2008), the Greens have held on to their lead over Labor at the crucial Count 9, which is up from 0.73% to 0.78% (8.88% to 8.10%). Shooters & Fishers are now 1.1% ahead of the Nationals at the final count on the ABC projection (0.3% yesterday), but Antony Green has echoed my sentiment yesterday that their lead wouldn’t survive below-the-line vote leakage.

Tuesday (7pm). It is clear that there will be four seats for the right and two for the left. The right seats will to go two Liberal, one National and one to either National or Shooters & Fishers. The left seats will either go two Labor or one Labor and one Greens. The ABC computer has recently had Shooters & Fishers taking the lead over the Nationals because the latter’s primary vote fell a fraction below a second quota. That leaves the second National stranded while Shooters & Fishers absorbs every available preference on the path to victory. Of course, the ABC projection assumes all votes follow the ticket, whereas below-the-line (more accurately beside the line) mean there will be some leakage. So I would still rate a Nationals win as more likely. In the Labor-Greens contest, the Greens currently at the key point in the count by 9.05% to 8.43%, a margin of 0.62%. I’ve seen this margin bounce around over the past 24 hours from 1.21% to 0.40% to its current level. Yesterday I observed a trend which if it continued might have meant the Greens losing to Shooters & Fishers for a five right and one left result, but that’s no longer in prospect.

Monday. With the count progressing from 51.6% to 57.4% and likely to top out at a bit over 70%, Greens incumbent Robin Chapple’s lead at the final count over John Parkes of Shooters & Fishers has narrowed from 6.12% to 4.13%. If that trend continues over the remainder of the count, Shooters & Fishers will pull ahead – although it could well be that a particularly conservative batch of votes was added today. The other hurdle Chapple needs to clear is maintain his lead over second Labor candidate Jim Murie at the second last exclusion, which is down fractionally from 1.24% to 1.21%.


Monday. The ABC computer now projects the Nationals taking the final seat rather than Family First, for a perfectly status quo result (including the re-election of all six members) of three Liberal, two Labor and one Nationals. On election night I identified the point at which the fourth Liberal was excluded as the danger moment for Bev Custers of Family First, but she has in fact pulled further ahead here. The issue has become an increase in the Nationals vote which leaves her behind their incumbent Colin Holt, leaving him to ride her preferences to victory rather than vice-versa. The Nationals’ lead at the last exclusion is 9.24% to 9.09%; I’ll continue monitoring the situation to see if it continues to widen.

WA election: the morning after

An impressionistic and poorly proof-read review of Colin Barnett’s WA landslide.

Still a fair bit up in the air, with Antony Green’s switching off of booth-matching on the ABC computer likely to cause a bit of confusion. I believe this has produced changes to the predictions provided for Belmont and Collie-Preston (both now “Labor ahead”), and also for Eyre (from Liberal retain to Nationals ahead), which you can learn more about below. Assuming I’m still capable of counting okay at this hour, I think the most likely result is Liberal 34, Labor 19 and Nationals 6.

Liberal gains from Labor: Balcatta, Forrestfield, Joondalup, Morley (notional), Perth and probably but not definitely Belmont, Kimberley and Collie-Preston.

Nationals gains from Labor: Pilbara.

Liberal gains from independent: Churchlands, Alfred Cove.

Liberal gains from Nationals: Warren-Blackwood.

Nationals gains from independent: Kalgoorlie.

Labor gains from independent: Fremantle.

So the Nationals might not have done as well as you think, probably having a net gain of one seat in the lower house and a net loss of one in the upper. And despite some speculation of a Greens wipeout during the count, they appear more likely than not to retain seats in South Metropolitan and Mining & Pastoral – though you should treat anything I say about upper house counts at this hour with caution.

First up, the following table breaks down the swings against Labor for various parts of the metropolitan area, at both this election and the last. The regions are much the same as when I conducted a similar exercise in 2008, with the following changes: Perth, Balcatta, Mount Lawley, Morley, Maylands, Midland, Girrawheen and Nollamara have been hived off Eastern Suburbs to form Inner North; Swan Hills and West Swan are out on their own in Swan Valley; and Inland Outskirts has been absorbed by Eastern Suburbs.

			2013	2008
Outer North (5)		-10.7%	-3.3%
South-Eastern (3)	-9.7%	-4.8%
Inner North (7)		-7.5%	-7.7%
Western/Riverside (9)	-6.6%	-6.1%
Eastern Suburbs (10)	-5.0%	-4.0%
Southern (6)		-2.3%	-4.5%
Swan Valley (2)		-1.7%	-6.6%

Outer North (5 seats). The 2008 election bucked the usual pattern wherein the northern suburbs moved en bloc to the winning party when there was a change of government, with Mindarie (now Butler) and Joondalup holding out against the tide. This time the elastic snapped, with a trio of Liberal sophomores (Andrea Mitchell in Kingsley, Albert Jacob in Ocean Reef and Paul Miles in Wanneroo) enjoying double-digit swings. There were smaller swings in the two Labor-held seats, but the 7.7% swing was more than enough to take out Tony O’Gorman’s 3.3% margin in Joondalup, while John Quigley’s margin in Butler was sliced from 10.4% to 2.1%.

South-Eastern (3 seats). Wherein three Liberal sophomores, Frank Abetz in Southern River, Mike Nahan in Riverton and Joe Francis in Jandakot, picked up swings of 15.5%, 7.4% and 6.1%.

Inner North (7 seats). The heavy swing against Labor in this area cost them Perth (7.7% margin, 10.3% swing), Morley (notional 0.8% margin, 5.3% swing) and Balcatta (2.2%, 9.6%). Contrary to expectations it might be a show for Labor, the Liberla margin in Mount Lawley blew out by 9.9%. Labor margins were substantially reduced in Maylands and Mirrabooka (5.9% and 7.6%), but Margaret Quirk did better in Girrawheen (3.9%), as she needed to coming off a margin of 6.7%.

Western/Riverside (9 seats). The Liberals recovered the formerly independent seats of Churchlands and Alfred Cove, Janet Woollard doing hardly better than Adele Carles in the latter. Swings were mild in Cottesloe and Nedlands, stronger further afield in Bateman and Scarborough.

Eastern Suburbs (10 seats). Labor did unusually well in Gosnells, where Chris Tallentire defended his margin of 4.8% against a swing of just 1.0%, but Michelle Roberts received a fright off a 7.9% swing in Midland. Belmont was being discussed as done and dusted, but the switching off of booth-matching shows a raw Labor lead of 0.6%. The key to this is that no pre-polls have been added, which were nearly 6% better for Liberal than the overall result in 2008.

Southern Suburbs (6 seats). One of Labor’s relative bright spots was a very limited swing in the southern coastal corridor. Last I looked Roger Cook appeared in trouble again from Kwinana mayor and independent candidate Carol Adams, but he looks to have come home strongly and holds a raw lead of 802 votes.

Swan Valley (2 seats). The Ellenbrook effect well in evidence with swings of 1.7% in both Swan Hills and West Swan, which respectively stayed Liberal and Labor.

Elsewhere, from top down:

Kimberley. A four-way humdinger with the Liberal candidate on 26.5%, the Greens with a James Price Point-engorged 25.9%, Labor on 21.6% and the Nationals on a surprisingly modest 20.8%. With Labor and the Greens directing preferences to Liberal ahead of Nationals, it seems to me most likely that the Liberals will win the seat. Amid an otherwise grim night, the Greens could end up within impressive proximity of victory at the final count.

Pilbara. Brendon Grylls did it easily, driving the Nationals vote up 17.5% to 40.2%, Labor down 14.4% to 29.0%, and the Liberals in third on 22.8%, up 3.5%.

North West Central. No preference count is available, but with Labor finishing third, it comes down to 44.9% for Vince Catania and 26.5% for the Liberal. Labor and the Greens have both preferenced the Liberal, but presumably there should be enough leakage to get Catania up.

Kalgoorlie. Further emphasising the point that this electorate’s Labor-voting days are in the past, Labor finished a distant third with 17.9% to 38.0% for both the Nationals and the Liberals. Nationals candidate Wendy Duncan holds a decisive 1.8% lead over the Liberal after preferences.

Mandurah and Dawesville. These followed the southern metropolitan pattern, in swinging only 1.3% and 1.7%.

Collie-Preston. Mick Murray holds a raw 62-vote lead, so the seat has flipped to Labor ahead on the ABC computer. Labor leads that narrow tend not to survive late counting; the big outstanding bloc of votes in absents, which should get the Liberals over the line if they follow the 2008 pattern, but the change in boundaries means they might not. So Liberals the favourite, but still in doubt.

Warren-Blackwood. A likely Nationals loss, with the sitting member Terry Redman down to 34.3% on the primary vote. There’s no preference count here, so the ABC’s 2.5% margin for the Liberals is based on Antony’s educated guess. Given the Liberals appear the more likely winner in Kimberley, the most likely outcome for the Nationals is in fact a modest net gain of one seat.

Albany. Yet another tremendous performance by Peter Watson, whose raw 776 vote should be more than enough to see off anything late counting can throw at him.

Eyre. Another turn-up from the switching off of booth matching on the indispensible ABC computer is that the Nationals are in fact 74 votes ahead in Eyre, held for the Liberals by Graham Jacobs. This is a very strong performance for them against a sitting member and in the face of Labor preferences to the Liberals.

Now for a very superficial reading of the upper house.

East Metropolitan: Looking like three and three, Labor leading the Greens 11.0% to 8.0% at the key second last exclusion.

North Metropolitan: The thumping swing to the Liberals has delivered them a fourth seat, squeezing out the Greens.

South Metropolitan: Of the Greens’ four seats, the ABC projection has them retaining two, one being Lynn MacLaren’s seat. Can’t see any alternative outcome to three Liberal, two Labor and one Greens.

South West: The ABC computer has Family First nabbing a seat from the Nationals off just 1.44% of the vote. However, they are delicately placed at Count 9 of the ABC projection, leading the fourth Liberal 5.96% to 5.12%. Should they fall behind, the Nationals will win the seat instead. So it’s three Liberal, two Labor and one Nationals or Family First.

Agricultural: A disappointing show by Max Trenorden appears to have resulted in a seat going to Shooters & Fishers, who remarkably seem to have scored preferences from Labor and the Greens as well as the more usual suspects. The result thus becomes two for the Nationals (down one), two for the Liberals (steady), one for Labor (steady) and one Shooters & Fishers.

Mining & Pastoral: Robin Chapple of the Greens will hold on to his seat if he can stay ahead of the second Labor candidate, whom he leads 9.9% to 6.7% at the relevant exclusion on the ABC projection. So the most likely result is two Liberal (steady), two Nationals (up one), one Labor (down one) and one Greens (steady).

Finally, it was another good night for Newspoll, although they appeared to have the Coalition a bit too high on two-party preferred. On the primary vote, the current numbers are 47.2% Liberal, 6.0% Nationals, 33.6% Labor and 7.9% Greens, while Newspoll had it at 48%, 6%, 32% and 8%.

Western Australian election live thread

A thread for discussion of the Western Australian election count as it unfolds.

A thread for discussion of the Western Australian election count as it unfolds. I won’t be offering my usual live blogging as I will be part of ABC Radio’s live coverage, along with federal Labor MP Gary Gray and Liberal Senator David Johnston. You will be able to follow this on News Radio or any local WA ABC station.

Newspoll: 59.5-40.5 to Liberal-Nationals in WA

Newspoll’s final result for the Western Australian campaign suggests Labor faces an even grimmer night tomorrow than anticipated.

Newspoll’s pre-election result for the Western Australian state election has come in well above expectations for the government, with the Liberals on 48% of the primary vote (up three on the start of the campaign) and the Nationals on 6% (steady) with Labor down three to 32% and the Greens steady at 8%. That translates to a thumping 59.5-40.5 lead for the Liberal-Nationals, and a swing of about 7.5%.

A regional breakdown tells us the numbers are 50% Liberal, 35% Labor and 8% Greens in Perth, which compares with a 2008 election result of 38.8% Liberal, 38.4% Labor and 13.2% Greens. In the rest of the state, the figures are 44% Liberal, 22% Nationals, 24% Labor and 7% Greens, comparing with 37.2%, 19.3%, 28.4% and 8.0%.

After a big slump in the previous poll, Colin Barnett is up four on approval to 51% and down six on disapproval to 36%, while Mark McGowan is down two to 49% and up three to 29%. After the lead was reduced to just four points in the previous poll, Barnett’s lead as preferred premier has blown out from 44-40 to 52-31.

The poll was conducted from Monday to Thursday from a bumper sample of 1744, with an unusually low margin of error of 2.4%. Full tables here, courtesy of GhostWhoVotes.

UPDATE: The West Australian reports Labor strategists conceding they will not win with Liberals quoted sounding correspondingly confident, although the prognostications offered don’t quite match the scale of the wipeout indicated by Newspoll. Senior Liberals are “confident the party would hold Morley and win Albany, Forrestfield and Balcatta from Labor”, and are also “optimistic” about Collie-Preston. Labor tracking polling is said to have variously had them on course for between 20 and 26 seats, with the final outcome looking at the low end of the range. The West’s Gareth Parker tips 23 seats for Labor; I think I’ll stick with my implied pick of 21 from Crikey today, even though it involves betting against a final Newspoll, which I don’t generally recommend.

Now for an introductory form guide ahead of tomorrow night’s action. The basic arithmetic is that Labor goes into the election with 26 seats and needs to win four; the Liberals go in with 24 and hope to win six to get a majority in their own right; and the Nationals go in with five and hoping to make further gains, both for its own sake and to retain the balance of power. Two independent seats look sure to bolster the Liberals’ total, and a third will most likely be won by the Nationals.

Firstly, Labor’s offensive plays. A net gain of four seats is required, of which the following look most likely/least unlikely:

Fremantle (Labor 12.0%): Adele Carles’s win for the Greens at an April 2009 by-election marked Labor’s first defeat in the seat since 1924. Then followed her affair with Treasurer Troy Buswell and subsequent resignation from the party, and the ongoing saga of her on-again off-again relationship with Buswell, the latest phase of which is his current defamation action against her. Carles is running again as an independent but has fairly open in acknowledging the futility of her endeavour. By far the likeliest result is that it will revert to old ways in delivering a clear win for the Labor candidates, UnionsWA secretary Simone McGurk, but I’ll be waiting on actual numbers before I entirely rule out the possibility of a Greens boilover.

Wanneroo (Liberal 1.0%): I personally would be surprised if this classic outer suburban swinging seat didn’t swing to the Liberals, but Labor appear to have kept it on their wish list as a potential thirtieth seat in the event should things unexpectedly improve for them.

Swan Hills (Liberal 3.5%): It is lucky for Liberal member Frank Alban that the redistribution has moved 80% of the outer urban centre of Ellenbrook to neighbouring West Swan, as the government has appeared determined to lose support there. Far from coming good on the progress it promised towards the proposed rail spur in its first term, the government instead knocked the project on the head early in the campaign. Then came this week’s revelation from Colin Barnett that the rapid bus transit project that had been floated as its replacement would also not proceed. Labor has ended its campaign making hay in the area thus. Labor has done well in selecting as its candidate Ian Radisich, whose sister Jaye Radisich held the seat from 2001 to 2008 and succumbed to cancer at the age of 35 in 2010, and who by all accounts is a highly presentable candidate in his own right. The rail line effect will be worth keeping an eye on, but the market view is that the mountain is too high for Labor to climb. See also West Swan further below.

Mount Lawley (Liberal 1.7%): Labor is more hopeful here than it might be otherwise it appeared to suffer a protest vote when it dumped sitting member Bob Kucera in 2008, and has re-enlisted him in the hopes of winning it back again. The seat is a complex mix of affluent left-leaning suburbs (Mount Lawley and Inglewood), affluent right-leaning suburbs (Coolbinia and Menora) and less affluent marginal suburbs (Dianella and Yokine), and is home to nearly a third of the state’s Jewish population.

Morley (Labor 0.8%): There are two reasons to expect this seat to buck the trend and move to the Labor column: redistribution has turned a Liberal margin of 0.9% into a notional Labor margin of 0.8%, and the Liberals were substantially assisted in 2008 by the preference recommendation of John D’Orazio, the Labor-turned-independent sitting member. However, there’s no guarantee that will prove enough to hold off against a general swing. Their candidate for the second election running is Reece Whitby, a former Channel Seven state political reporter who has done a lot of work locally since his unexpected defeat in 2008 to dispel the notion he’s a western suburbs blow-in.

Then there’s Labor’s metropolitan firing line, in pendulum order:

Forrestfield (Labor 0.2%): A swing of any substance is likely to take out this eastern suburbs seat, which Labor’s Andrew Waddell won by a margin of 98 votes in 2008. Both parties are going to the effort to extend their airport rail plans to terminate at a station within the electorate.

Balcatta (Labor 2.2%): Labor hasn’t lost this seat before, but their position has been weakened by substantial Liberal-leaning urban infill in Osborne Park and Stirling, and they now confront the retirement of a veteran sitting member in John Kobelke.

Joondalup (Labor 3.3%): The orthodox view that the elections were decided in the northern suburbs broke down with the 2008 result, one aspect of which was a gentle 0.8% swing against Labor in the tough marginal seat of Joondalup. There’s a strong chance the Liberals will make up for it after waging a more determined campaign this time around.

West Swan (Labor 4.1%): All the issues observed in relation to Ellenbrook in the Swan Hills entry apply in multiple degree here. So it might be thought surprising that the Liberals have been heavily targeting the electorate, and that Labor has responded in kind. It should be remembered that this is an electorate of two distinct halves, with a slight majority of its voters located around Ballajura, far from the concerns of Ellenbrook.

Gosnells (Labor 4.8%): The margin of 4.8% is fairly solid, but Labor member Chris Tallentire was nervous enough about his prospects to have run his own advertisements on 6PR earlier in the week.

Belmont (Labor 6.7%): In common with Balcatta, Belmont is a traditional Labor stronghold where proximity to the city is driving up rents and house prices, and where a long-standing Labor sitting member is retiring. In this case it’s former party leader Eric Ripper, who has represented the area since 1988.

Girrawheen (Labor 6.7%): Redistribution has slashed the Labor from 11.5% to 6.7% by adding the newer Liberal-leaning suburbs of Madeley and Darch to the more established Labor-voting core of Marangaroo and Girrawheen. Troublingly for Labor, the population of the former nearly doubled between the 2006 and 2011 censuses, while the latter remained static.

In the regions, all four of Labor’s seats are at risk – two most likely from the Nationals, and the other two from the Liberals.

Kimberley (Labor 6.8%): Every one of Labor’s four regional seats is at risk: the two in the state’s north from the Nationals, the two in the south from the Liberals. The Labor margin is 6.8%, but the retirement of sitting member Carol Martin has changed everything in a seat which in many ways resembles a regional Northern Territory electorate: the electorate is 40% indigenous, and only 9861 formal votes were cast at the 2008 election. The electorate also includes Broome, where the James Price Point controversy may be an unpredictable factor. Most rate Nationals candidate Michele Pucci, but the Liberals are also campaigning vigorously.

Pilbara (Labor 7.2%): In a seat engorged by the mining boom with money (incomes competitive with the western suburbs or better, according to the 2011 census) and men (62% of the population is the male), Pilbara joins Kimberley as a northern seat Labor is expected to lose due to the retirement of a sitting member and the insurgency of the Nationals. The latter is particularly important, as Brendon Grylls has taken it upon himself to further expand the party’s regional empire beyond its Wheatbelt heartland by contesting the seat himself. I’ve variously heard it said that internal polling has Grylls on 38%, 40% and 46%, any of which should allow him to win handsomely.

Albany (Labor 0.2%): Many have been reluctant to back against Peter Watson after his win against the odds in 2008, when he picked up a 2.5% swing to survive by 89 votes after redistribution made the seat notionally Liberal. However, Labor would have benefited in 2008 from local support for Alan Carpenter, who was locally born and raised.

Collie-Preston (Labor 3.8%): A difficult seat to read, with Collie being as safe as it gets for Labor and the remainder being conservative dairy and beef farming territory. It’s now also absorbing new Bunbury suburbia around Eaton. Labor’s Mick Murray has an impressive track record electorally, retaining his seat in 2008 after redistribution sent him head-to-head with a sitting Liberal who had served nearly half the redrawn seat.


Kalgoorlie (Independent 3.6% versus Nationals): Labor lost the seat against the trend of the 2001 election, and it appears this marked a watershed moment in the party’s long-term decline here. Matt Birney, who had a troubled tenure as Liberal leader after the 2005 election, held the seat for two terms before pulling the plug on his political career in 2008. It was then won by Labor-turned-independent member John Bowler, who had a big presence in the Goldfields as member for the abolished neighbouring seat of Murchison-Eyre. Bowler became very close to the Nationals and has helpfully endorsed their candidate, upper house MP Wendy Duncan.

Warren-Blackwood (Nationals 10.2% versus Liberal): Nationals member Terry Redman pushed through genetically engineered crop trials as Agriculture Minister, and then had the misfortune of the redistribution adding the Greens hotbed of Margaret River to his electorate. The Liberals are hoping the weak presence of the Nationals in the latter area, together with favourable preferencing from Labor and the Greens, will help deliver them the seat.

Eyre (Liberal 3.4% versus Nationals): Labor’s decision to direct preferences to Liberal incumbent Graham Jacobs ahead of the Nationals candidate will blunt the latter’s challenge somewhat, but the Nationals are still making optimistic noises.

Moore (Nationals 3.1% versus Liberal): When the one-vote one-value redistribution merged Moore with much of Greenough at the 2008 election, a contest of sitting Nationals and Liberal members was won by the candidate of the former, Grant Woodhams, who is now retiring. Despite being an open contest this time, I haven’t heard any serious suggestion the Liberals are going to recover the seat.


Churchlands (Independent 22.5% versus Labor): A conservative area served since 1991 by retiring independent Liz Constable, this is a lay-down misere for Liberal candidate Sean L’Estrange.

Alfred Cove (Independent 0.2% versus Liberal): Independent incumbent Janet Woollard has enjoyed three successive narrow victories in this naturally conservative seat. She came particularly close to defeat at the hands of the Liberals in 2008, and it universally anticipated that her time is up. She has grappled this term with her son Luke’s involvement in a 2008 boating accident that occurred while he was driving under the influence of alcohol, resulting in severe injury to a female passenger. Woollard complained in a letter to constituents of “a campaign to vilify our family and force us to pay additional money”.

Kwinana (Labor 16.4%): Local mayor Carol Adams came very close to winning the normally safe Labor seat in 2008, which would have blocked Roger Cook’s simultaneous entry to parliament and the deputy Labor leadership. Now she is trying again.

WA election minus one day

A tasty collection of electorate-level news morsels ahead of tomorrow’s Western Australian state election.

Some local level campaign news nuggets for your enjoyment, which I’ve used to update my election guide. You will also observe for selected marginal seats that 2008 results maps have been included. I guess I’ll post a more general seats-to-watch style form guide later today, so do stay tuned.

Swan Hills (Liberal 3.5%) and West Swan (Labor 4.1%): With the two seats sharing the rapidly expanding new outer urban centre of Ellenbrook, West Swan and Swan Hills have been ground zero in the debate over public transport. During the 2008 campaign the Liberals matched Labor’s promise to build a spur to Ellenbrook running off the Midland line after Bayswater station, and they have been rueing the fact ever since taking office. With promised first-term spending failing to eventuate, Barnett weakly offered that it was intended as a “second-term project”, only to announce earlier in the campaign that it was being scrapped altogether. The concept’s demise was hastened by a consultants’ report on the future of Perth’s public transport system, which recommended a $61 million rapid transit bus service to Bassendean as a more viable alternative. However, Barnett told a media conference earlier this week that this too had been knocked on the head. A muddle ensued between Barnett and Buswell, with the latter saying money might be committed after design works were completed, and the former claryfing that while there was “work going on”, no further commitments were being made. Barnett offered that locals would sooner have the money spent on the two major roads projects the government would pursue: the so-called “Perth to Darwin Highway”, in fact a 37 kilometre bypass road that promises to take 3000 trucks off the Great Northern Highway, and turning Gnangara Road into a dual carriageway. The former is among the projects where the Liberals have been faulted for relying on federal funding, making their own commitment of $196 million to an $830 million project.

Belmont (Labor 6.7%): One of the most hotly contested points of difference in the campaign has involved the competing concepts for an airport rail link, the chief distinction being the location of the station serving the domestic airport. Labor proposes a site on Tonkin Highway, some distance from the existing terminal – 1.5 kilometres away, by the disputed reckoning of the Liberal Party – which will equally service the suburb of Redcliffe and obviate the need for an expensive tunnel under a runway. This was mocked by the Liberals with radio advertisements mimicking an airport announcer who explained the practical difficulties for travellers requiring a shuttle bus to complete their connection. Labor responded that the domestic airport terminal was scheduled to close in 2020, although The West Australian’s aviation editor Geoffrey Thomas told 6PR that the industry doubted it would happen quite so soon. The Liberals argue that their domestic terminal station would remain of value after its closure by serving the “upmarket business park” that will be built there.

Kimberley (Labor 6.8%): Kimberley is the scene of the flashpoint environmental issue of the campaign, the government’s plan for a $40 billion LNG hub. The proposed location of James Price Point is 40 kilometres north of Broome, where it is a visibly divisive issue. Labor has been broadly supportive without being entirely committed, and there were suggestions early in the campaign that the federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, was holding off a decision on environmental approval until after the election to spare McGowan embarrassment. The issue has opened a gap in the market for the Greens, who are enthusiastically opposed. However, the project is looking increasingly in doubt as project partner Royal Dutch Shell pushes for an offshore “floating LNG” option. In other news, the Nationals have promised to use $125 million in Royalties for Regions funding over five years from a “West Kimberley Revitalisation Plan”, to be spent in various ways in and around Broome and Derby.

Pilbara (Labor 7.2%): An electorate like no other, the mining boom has had Pilbara edging out Nedlands and Cottesloe as the top seat in the state for median outcome. It is also, by some margin, the state’s most male-dominated electorate (61.9% against 58.9% for neighbouring North West, with daylight third), and the one with the highest proportion of renters. The latter has assumed crucial importance with median weekly rent increasing three-fold over five years to $1600 as of June 2012 – the most expensive in the country. Presiding over much of this as Lands Minister has been Brendon Grylls, who has raised eyebrows with the recent frequency of ministerial press releases announcing land releases in the electorate he has chosen to personally target. Labor has sought to capitalise on the issue by promising the establishment of a Pilbara Development Commission with statutory power to address development bottlenecks.

Warren-Blackwood (Nationals 10.2% versus Liberal): There have been suggestions that Nationals member Minister Terry Redman faces a threat from a Labor decision to direct preferences to the Liberals and a campaign against his decision as Agriculture Minister to allow crop trials for genetically modified canola. An unhelpful development for Redman on this score has been a redistribution adding Margaret River to the electorate, where the vote in 2008 divided roughly evenly between Liberal, Labor and the Greens. Mark McGowan says Labor will do “anything we can do to stop the rollout”, although this turned out not to mean reinstating the ban.

Albany (Labor 0.2%): The biggest ticket local issue in Labor’s most marginal seat is a scheme to link Albany to the state’s natural gas network through a pipeline to Bunbury. After promising a $450 million project during the 2008 campaign, the government is only delivering a $135 million option that will carry 12 terajoules per day rather than the promised 50. Labor’s position is that the project should be left to the private sector, with the money spent instead on roads and schools.

Riverton (Liberal 2.0%): The Liberals went into the 2008 election promising $166 million would be spent on extending the Roe Highway through Bibra Lake to Stock Road south of Fremantle, thereby filling the last missing link in what was envisioned a metropolitan ring road. However, as the end of the term came into view the project remained under consideration by the Environmental Protection Authority. While the project involves enormously contentious construction through the Beeliar wetlands, which caused the previous Labor government to abandon the project on environmental grounds, it would be of value to the marginal Liberal seat of Riverton further north by reducing heavy traffic on Leach Highway. Labor has included a dividend from scrapping the project in its savings measures for Metronet.

Central Wheatbelt (Nationals 18.8% versus Liberal): The government’s reluctance to keep open the unprofitable “tier 3” rail freight lines is a source of considerable local anger, as it promises to increase road train traffic on the Wheatbelt’s threadbare road network. Whereas Labor has promised $30 million over three years to keep the service open, the Liberals have so far offered only committed to a year’s extension upon the expiry of the operator’s lease, which will take it through to October. Beyond that the government would “decide, in consultation with industry and farmers, which Tier 3 lines are viable and could remain open”. The Nationals’ compliance with this position was described as “inexcusable” by Hendy Cowan, leader of the party from 1985 to 2001, who said he intended to vote for his brother Bill, the number three candidate on the independent Max Trenorden/Philip Gardiner upper house ticket for Agricultural region.

Geraldton (Liberal 8.5%): As part of its Metronet savings, Labor said it would scrap the $339 million the Barnett government committed to the Oakajee port and rail project 25 kilometres north of Geraldton, on the basis that the project should proceed on a private footing. Their readiness to do so might be read as an implicit acknowledgement that Labor is no longer competitive in the seat. The government received a blow when the project’s owners, Mitsubishi, announced in December it would be indefinitely delayed, although Barnett says he is hopeful it can proceed if Chinese investors can be brought in.

Collie-Preston (Labor 3.8%): On January 17, Labor promised to spend $18 million of Royalties for Regions funds on fixing black spots on the Coalfields Highway that connects the South Western Highway and Albany Highway via Collie. The Liberals responded on February 13 with a promise to spend $22 million over three years. The Liberals have promised to have Wellington Dam, located about 10 kilometres from Collie, de-proclaimed as a drinking water source, opened to recreational activities and restocked with fish.

Joondalup (Labor 3.3%): Labor made an early campaign promise of $9 million for new facilities at Joondalup Arena for the benefit of WAFL club West Perth, which relocated to the northern suburbs in 1994. The Liberals then trumped this with a $20 million promise that also included facilities for basketball and rugby.

WA election minus three days

With internal polling reportedly pointing to a pro-government swing of up to 5%, WA Labor is hoping the prospect of a Troy Buswell premiership will persuade voters to think again.

“I’M NOT SICK” blares the front page headline of today’s West Australian, with Colin Barnett dismissing “whispers from across the political divide” as “bullshit”. Labor front-bencher Ken Travers said yesterday Barnett was “looking tired”, and claimed he had taken five days off during the campaign (which the Liberals reject). The editorial in the Sunday Times over the weekend similarly faulted Barnett for having “at times appeared tired and a little flat”, while nonetheless endorsing the return of his government. McGowan, 45, will devote the last four days of the campaign to a demanding four-day tour of 20 seats, the idea being to project an image of vitality in contrast to 62-year-old Barnett.

Much of Labor’s late advertising has sought to lead thoughts of a faltering Barnett to a vote-winning conclusion by invoking the prospect of a Troy Buswell as his successor, with Mark McGowan mentioning the Treasurer’s name nine times during Monday’s campaign launch speech. Helpfully, The West Australian today quotes an unidentified Liberal backbencher relating rumours that Buswell agreed to relinquish the leadership in 2008 on the understanding he would resume it down the track, by which time it was presumed the chair-sniffing furore would have died down (and also that no new furores would emerge – a forlorn hope if so).

For their part, the Liberals are trading off hostility towards the federal government with television advertising portraying Labor as “a mess”. This notion is further exploited in radio advertising with reference to the $1.4 billion gap between Labor’s costing of its Metronet proposals and the figure produced on Friday by Treasury.

Horse race latest:

• The West Australian reported last week that Labor internal polling showed their position weakening between a fortnight and a week ago. At the start of that period the tracking polling of target metropolitan marginals had Labor facing a swing of between 2.5% and 3.5%, but by the end the polling was said to be in line with the 56-44 Galaxy result – suggesting a swing upwards of 4%.

• And now a further week on, Rebecca Carmody of the ABC reports a Labor source saying the party is bracing for a swing of around 5%, and putting “most of that down to voter dislike of Ms Gillard”.

Joe Spagnolo of The Sunday Times reported Nationals internal polling shows Brendon Grylls is set to win Pilbara with “as much as 40% of the primary vote”, while it is “understood” that Liberal polling “could” have Grylls “as high as” 46%. Grylls is also quoted saying the party still regards itself as a show to knock off Liberal MP Graham Jacobs in Eyre despite Labor’s direction of preferences to the Liberals.

Joe Spagnolo of The Sunday Times further reports a “final week blitz” by the Liberals targeting Forrestfield, Joondalup, Balcatta and Albany, with Kimberley, West Swan and Collie-Preston identified as a “next tier of very winnable seats”. Labor is said to be targeting Balcatta, Belmont, Pilbara and Kimberley. All of these are defensive plays, but Wanneroo, Mount Lawley and Riverton appear to have been thrown into the mix to help take them all the way should things turn out better than anticipated.

• Speaking on 6PR yesterday, Barry Urquhart of Marketing Focus discussed research showing rising utilities bills were having little bearing on voters’ thinking. Concern was instead focused on “infrastructure, congestion and the cost of living and therefore lifestyle stresses”, with voters placing considerable value on the virtues of “stability and security”, to the advantage of the government.

WA election: Legislative Council guide

Ahead of Saturday’s state election, a guide to the six regions constituting Western Australia’s Legislative Council.

I’ve posted a Legislative Council guide for Saturday’s Western Australian election, featuring an overview and reviews of its six six-member regions. To whet your appetite, here’s a few paragraphs which I felt might interest a broader readership than the one it will get at the tail end of my overview:

The electoral reforms which took effect in 2008 were achieved (by the previous Labor government) with the support of the Greens and Alan Cadby, a Liberal member who had quit the party after being defeated for preselection. However, the former’s counter-intuitive insistence on maintaining rural vote weighting in the upper house produced a system which Labor’s outgoing president of the Legislative Council, Nick Griffiths, said would guarantee conservative majorities “short of a Labor landslide”. Whereas the existing formulation of regional vote weighting had been quite hard enough on the left, odd numbers of members at least meant Labor could hope for majority “left” results in the metropolitan regions plus Mining & Pastoral, collectively outweighing their disadvantage in Agricultural and South West. However, the norm now will be for even left-right splits in the stronger regions for Labor, with Agricultural having an entrenched right majority.

The challenging new environment faced by the left was underscored by the 2008 election result. The metropolitan area produced left-right parity with results of three Liberal, two Labor and one Greens in each of the three regions, to which the Liberals and Nationals added 12 non-metropolitan seats against just six for Labor and the Greens. This put the Nationals in a clear balance-of-power position and marginalised the Greens. Among the consequences was a weakened position for Labor as it sought to persuade the Nationals to maintain it in government after the election, as only an alliance with the Liberals would be guaranteed to deliver on any agreements reached in the upper house.

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