Margin: Labor 14.8%*
Region: East Metropolitan
* By-election 2/10/10: Labor 20.2% versus Christian Democratic Party
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JAMIE VAN BURGEL
Electorate analysis: Armadale is a long-established outer urban centre and metropolitan railway terminus located about 30 kilometres south-east of the city. The electorate was created in 1983 and has been held at all times by Labor, the closest result being Alannah MacTiernan’s 4.0% win when she succeeded Kay Hallahan in 1996. The 1996 election was the second in a row at which the seat was used to accommodate a transfer from the upper house, Hallahan having succeeded inaugural member Bob Pearce in 1993.
As Planning and Infrastructure Minister, Alannah MacTiernan became the most visible figure in the Gallop-Carpenter government aside from the respective premiers. She nonetheless had her preselection threatened ahead of the 2005 election after a school bus drivers’ pay dispute cost her the support of the Transport Workers Union and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, which dominated her Centre faction. The move fell over after failing to win the support of the Left, and she thereafter survived and prospered as an independent. Her calls for reform to the factional system further alienated her from party powerbrokers, and she could not harness support for the leadership despite her clear lead in polls as preferred Labor leader.
Her career at an impasse, MacTiernan decided in February 2010 to throw her hat into the ring for a run against Liberal MP Don Randall in Canning at the 2010 federal election. This appeared a good prospect at the time, but federal Labor’s political fortunes nosedived very shortly thereafter. MacTiernan did exceptionally well to pick the only pro-Labor swing in the state, but nonetheless succeeded only in halving Randall’s 4.4% margin. In October 2012 she was elected mayor of the inner city municipality of Vincent.
MacTiernan’s departure resulted in a by-election for Armadale which was held on October 2, 2010, for which Labor endorsed University of Western Australia law professor Tony Buti. In the absence of a Liberal challenger Buti won effortlessly, scoring 57.9% of the primary vote and a 20.3% margin over a Christian Democratic Party candidate after preferences. His Liberal opponent at the coming election is Katherine Webster, a local nurse.