Gallop poll

Yet another shocking opinion poll for Geoff Gallop’s Labor government, this time from Roy Morgan, which can always be relied upon to paint a rosier picture for Labor than its rivals. Today’s results show a 3.5 per cent shift to the Coalition since the poll taken two months ago, reducing Labor to 49.5 per cent of the two-party preferred vote. On the primary vote, Labor are down 3 per cent to 39.5 per cent and the Coalition are up 2 per cent to 43.5 per cent. Family First have been given a separate entry for the first time, although their 1 per cent support may not justify it. The trend from all three polling organisations is hard to miss:

Westpoll Morgan Newspoll
December 40 51 5 39.5 43.5 8 34 49 7
Oct/Nov 41 50 6 42.5 41.5 9
Aug/Sept 46 47 5 47.5 38 7 38 41 9
Election 10/2/01 37.2 34.4 7.3 37.2 34.4 7.3 37.2 34.4 7.3

Not so fast

Geoff Gallop says, "there won’t be an announcement this week on the election. I don’t think I’ll be going to see the Governor this week, but watch this space and we’ll see when the election comes". Leaving aside the perplexing shift from "won’t be" in sentence one to "don’t think" in sentence two, this appears to rule out February 12 without locking in February 19, although in reality the latter date is all but certain.

Western front communiqué #5

With seasonal festivities out of the way, the Poll Bludger will now endeavour to lift his work rate as the Western Australian election looms ever nearer.

• The silly season has taken on an altogether different complexion in the wake of the tsunami catastrophe, but the effect has been to make the new year period an even greater dead zone than usual for substantial domestic political coverage. The Gallop government has thus been afforded no opportunity to shape the agenda as it prepares for the coming election in the face of deteriorating opinion polling. Accordingly, great import is being read into news that Premier Geoff Gallop will make a major policy announcement at the WA Media Club on Friday, described by AAP as a "hastily arranged keynote speech". Monica Videnieks of The West Australian reports that this is being seen as an attempt to regain the initiative ahead of an announcement of an election for either February 12 or February 19. Elections on these dates would respectively need to be called no later than January 14 (this coming Friday) or January 21.

• The contest for the well-heeled riverside electorate of Alfred Cove, won from unpopular Liberal heavy Doug Shave by Janet Woollard of Liberals for Forests in 2001, looms as the election’s most interesting sideshow. To the Poll Bludger’s mind, there has never seemed any reason why Woollard should not be able to match the electoral longevity of the similarly placed member for Churchlands, Elizabeth Constable, who has been untroubled by Liberal challengers since entering parliament at a 1991 by-election. However a number of those in the know appear to think differently. Liberal preselection for the seat was hotly contested and eventually won by Court government Workplace Relations Minister Graham Kierath, who lost his seat of Riverton in 2001. Michael Southwell, noted local journalist and Greens preselection candidate, wrote in November that Woollard "cannot and will not retain her seat" because she has failed to make an impact over the logging debate or the ongoing issues surrounding the finance brokers scandal which were primarily responsible for her winning the seat in the first place. If Woollard really is in trouble, she has been thrown a lifeline by The West Australian, whose page two gossip column Inside Cover has devoted much of its space over the past week to a "civil disobedience" campaign by Applecross traders rebelling against a Melville City Council demand that a poster promoting Woollard be removed from a local shop window. The complaint was initiated by Kierath, while the high-profile mayor of the council in question, Katherine Jackson, is also running as an independent after failing to win Liberal preselection. The demand has led to a rash of Woollard posters appearing locally as shop owners express solidarity in opposition to the demand, which has led to talk of a High Court challenge on constitutional grounds if the council proceeds with a prosecution.

One day in February

Monica Videnieks of The West Australian has had a fair bit to say recently on the likely timing of the state election, offering this on Monday:

If (Premier Geoff Gallop) chooses a campaign longer than the typical four weeks, Dr Gallop can call the State election as early as tomorrow (didn’t happen – PB). But it is more likely an election for February 12 would see Dr Gallop visiting the Governor, Lt-Gen John Sanderson, after January 11. If the Government opts for a February 19 election, Dr Gallop’s trip to Government House is more likely to take place in the week of January 18. The Premier can opt to delay the election until May 21, although this would run against the Government’s argument for fixed terms and could be seen as a sign it is afraid of a vote.

The article also cites Harry Phillips of Edith Cowan University saying a January 18 poll would give Labor "more time to remind voters of its accomplishments, particularly difficult at the moment with news of the South-East Asian tsunami disaster saturating the media".