Margin: Labor 3.3%
Location: Southern Perth, Western Australia
In a nutshell: Formerly held by Kim Beazley and currently held by Gary Gray, Brand has been in Labor hands since its creation in 1984, though not always by especially comfortable margins.
The candidates (ballot paper order)
CRAIG WALKER LAWRENCE
PAUL JAMES YOUNG
GABRIELLE LISANNE IRIKS
Brand covers the coastal strip in southern Perth taking in the heavy industrial zone around Kwinana, the outer metropolitan centre of Rockingham, and suburbs further south as far as the outskirts of Mandurah. Labor has held the seat since it was created with the expansion of parliament in 1984, being strong in Rockingham and especially around Kwinana. However, the Liberals have sources of strength in the coastal suburbs south of Port Kennedy, and inland of Rockingham at Baldivis. Troublingly for Labor, both are areas of rapid development: between the 2001 and 2010 elections, the number of votes cast at the Baldivis booth increased from 1323 to 4338, while the Secret Harbour booth grew from 1150 to 3182.
Brand was held for Labor by Wendy Fatin from its inception until 1996, when it served as an escape hatch for Kim Beazley after one close scrape too many in Swan. Beazley’s troubles did not end there, as his debut in Brand saw him hold on by just 387 votes, with Labor spending the week after its election defeat unsure if he would be available to assume the leadership. In 1998 he rode an 11.1% swing to enjoy his first comfortable win since 1987, and he went untroubled in Brand thereafter. Beazley bowed out at the 2007 election after losing the leadership to Kevin Rudd, and was succeeded as Labor candidate by Gary Gray, the party’s national secretary at the 1996 and 1998 elections and later an executive with mining giant Woodside. Gray’s electoral performances have been broadly in line with the overall state results: in 2007 he picked up a 1.0% swing, despite the loss of Kim Beazley’s personal vote, and the swing against him in 2010 was 2.3%.
A figure in the Right faction, Gray was immediately promoted to parliamentary secretary and then to the outer ministry after the 2010 election as Special Minister of State and Minister for the Public Service and Integrity. In the wake of Kevin Rudd’s abortive leadership pitch in March 2013, which prompted the resignations of Martin Ferguson and Chris Bowen, Gray won promotion to cabinet in the resources and energy, tourism and small business portfolios. He was among those publicly critical of Rudd in the course of his leadership challenges, declaring that he lacked the requisite courage and strength for leadership one week before he finally succeeded in deposing Gillard. Gray was nonetheless persuaded to continue serving in cabinet.
Gray will again be opposed at the next election by the Liberal candidate from 2010, Donna Gordin, a Rockingham real estate agent.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.