Margin: Liberal 0.6%
Location: Eastern Perth, Western Australia
In a nutshell: The most marginal Liberal seat in the country has changed hands at all three elections held since its inauguration. The current member is Ken Wyatt, the first ever self-identifying indigenous member of the House of Representatives.
The candidates (ballot paper order)
ROBIN DAVID SCOTT
The eastern Perth seat of Hasluck has changed hands at all three elections since its creation as Western Australia’s fifteenth seat at the 2001 election, from territory that had previously been in Perth, Tangney and Swan. Labor has outperformed the state swing in Hasluck at each election, but has twice been denied by the force of statewide tides to the Coalition. The electorate consists of three discrete population areas, with those in the north and south favouring Labor and the one in the centre leaning to the Liberals. The northern area includes Midland, home to a high proportion of seniors, rent payers and low-income earners, and the more Liberal-friendly Guildford, which is demographically unremarkable on all measures. The central area includes middle-income suburbs around Kalamunda in the Darling Scarp, home to a large number of English migrants, as well as mortgage-sensitive Forrestfield and Maida Vale nearer the city. In the south are the suburbs of Gosnells, Thornlie and Maddington, which are marked by lower levels of income and home ownership. The seat is held for the Liberals by Ken Wyatt, whose win in 2010 made him the first ever self-identifying indigenous member of the House of Representatives.
Ken Wyatt was formerly a director of the Office of Aboriginal Health director and is the uncle of Ben Wyatt, an emerging figure on the other side of politics as the state’s Shadow Treasurer. Wyatt’s win at the 2010 election came at the expense of Labor’s Sharryn Jackson, who had won the seat in 2001, lost it in 2004 and recovered it again in 2007. Jackson became the seat’s inaugural member after defending a notional margin of 2.6% against a Liberal swing of 0.6%, before a further swing of 3.6% in 2004 evicted her as Perth failed to take a shine to Mark Latham. The seat was then held for the Liberals by Stuart Henry, former executive director of the Western Australian Master Plumbers Association. Jackson served as Labor’s state president in the interim, and was reportedly urged by her backers in the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union sub-faction of the Left to seize the opportunity of Kim Beazley’s retirement to contest Brand at the 2007 election. She instead declared herself set on recovering Hasluck, and was duly successful on the back of a 3.1% swing. However, redistribution cut Jackson’s 1.3% margin to 0.9% going into the 2010 election, and she was then seen off by an evenly distributed 1.4% swing.
Labor’s new candidate for Hasluck is Adrian Evans, deputy state secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia. Evans’ preselection is the product of an increasing assertiveness within the state ALP on the part of his union, which according to one report accounts for a quarter of the state branch’s membership after a recruitment drive swelled its numbers from 150 to 850. The union first sought to flex its muscles when Evans ran for preselection for the state seat of Fremantle, which prior to the 2009 by-election defeat was held by LHMWU figurehead Jim McGinty. The LHMWU faction was able to secure preselection for its favoured candidate, UnionsWA secretary Simone McGurk, but it took a deal with the Right faction Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association to shore up her position in the face of the challenge from Evans. The quid pro quo included support from United Voice (as the LHMWU had become known) for the Senate ambitions of SDA state president Joe Bullock, who has duly gained top position on the Senate ticket at the expense of incumbent Louise Pratt. This has in turn caused friction between United Voice and Pratt’s AMWU sub-faction of the Left, with which the MUA is aligned.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.