Electorate: Canning

Margin: Liberal 2.2%
Location: Outer Southern Perth, Western Australia

The candidates (ballot paper order)


Liberal (top)


Australian Christians

Labor (bottom)


Palmer United Party

Family First Party

Rise Up Australia

Katter’s Australian Party


Two-party vote map


Swing % map


Electorate analysis: Canning covers Perth’s south-eastern hinterland at Kelmscott and Armadale, and extends south to coastal Mandurah and down the South Western Highway to Pinjarra and Waroona. It has been held for the Liberals since 2001 by Don Randall, who faced a strong challenge at the 2010 election from Alannah MacTiernan, who achieved the highest profile of any minister in the Gallop/Carpenter state Labor government of 2001-2008. MacTiernan went against the statewide trend in picking up a 2.2% swing, but this was insufficient to account for Randall’s 4.3% margin. MacTiernan will contest the coming election in the seat of Perth, which is being vacated by Stephen Smith.

Canning extended deep into the Wheatbelt when it was created with the enlargement of parliament in 1949, and was accordingly held by the Country Party until 1974, barring one term in Liberal hands after the 1961 election. The Country Party lost it for good at the 1974 election, which the state branch contested as the National Alliance as part of a disastrous short-lived merger with the Democratic Labor Party, and would not hold a federal lower house seat in WA again until Tony Crook’s win in O’Connor in 2010. Wendy Fatin won the seat for Labor for the first time in 1983 following spectacular successive swings, of 13.0% in 1980 and 9.2% in 1983. The enlargement of parliament in 1984 led to the loss of Canning’s rural areas, reorienting it as a Perth outskirts seat with a slightly smaller Labor margin. Fatin moved to the new seat of Brand and Canning was won for Labor by George Gear, who went on to serve as Assistant Treasurer in the Keating government. Gear faced Liberal candidate Ricky Johnston at each of the five elections he contested, surviving by 244 votes in 1993 before Johnston finally prevailed by 968 votes in 1996.

Johnston’s long-sought victory marked the first of three consecutive elections at which the seat changed hands. She suffered her final defeat in 1998 when the seat was won by Labor’s Jane Gerick, who was in turn edged out in 2001 after an unfavourable redistribution and a slight Liberal swing. The new Liberal member was Don Randall, who had raised many an eyebrow during his one term as member for Swan after 1996. The see-saw came to a decisive halt when Randall enjoyed the biggest swing in the country in 2004, picking up 10.9% on the primary vote and 9.2% on two-party preferred. This was assisted in no small part by Labor’s misfortunes with its candidates. Gerick was initially given the nod to recover her old seat, but the leukaemia she was first diagnosed with a few months prior to her 2001 defeat claimed her life on Christmas Day in 2003. Gerick’s replacement, Cimlie Bowden, ended up withdrawing in acrimonious circumstances, and it fell to a reluctant Kay Hallahan, a former state government minister, to take the hit at the election. However, the seat recorded a fairly modest correction in 2007, swinging to Labor by 4.0% against a state total of 2.1%.

Don Randall is perhaps best remembered for telling parliament Cheryl Kernot had “the morals of an alley cat on heat” during his tenure as member for Swan, and he has underscored his loose cannon reputation in the current term by boycotting the stolen generations apology and attacking the Reserve Bank. He nonetheless won promotion to parliamentary secretary after the 2007 election, but was overlooked for the front bench after the 2010 election victory. More recently, he has been at the centre of travel expenses controversies involving a claim on a trip to Melbourne for “sittings of parliament”, and the purchase of an investment property in Cairns shortly after he travelled there on “electorate business”.

Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.

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