WA election 2013

Legislative Council

North Metropolitan
South Metropolitan
East Metropolitan
South West
Mining & Pastoral


The election for the Legislative Council will be the seventh held since the current system of proportional representation from six regions, three covering the metropolitan area (North Metropolitan, South Metropolitan and East Metropolitan) and another three the remainder of the state (South West, Agricultural and Mining & Pastoral). The regions contained either five or seven members until the current “six by six” formula was introduced in 2008, an arrangement that closely parallels half-Senate elections in having six elections for six seats with quotas of 14.3%. Although introduced as part of a package of reforms giving effect to one-vote one-value for the lower house, the new system retained the existing malapportionment in the upper house, with metropolitan regions consisting of 14 districts compared with eight for South West, five for Mining & Pastoral and four for Agricultural.

Before the introduction of proportional representation in 1989, the state was divided into provinces which each had two members serving staggered six-year terms, so that each election was for a single member using the same electoral system as for the lower house. Then as now, terms were fixed to end on May 21 of the relevant year. The new system abolished staggered terms and set the term for both houses at four years, although it remained unfixed in the case of the lower house. In the same fashion as the federal sphere, a practical limitation on the timing of lower house elections was imposed by the fact that upper house elections must be held in the final year of a fixed term.

The Coalition maintained its long-standing majority at the first two elections held after the introduction of proportional representation, winning 18 seats in 1989 (when the Dowding Labor government was narrowly returned) and 1993 (when the Court government came to power). However, it was reduced to 17 seats from June 1991 until the 1993 election when Reg Davies quit the Liberal Party to sit as an independent. No minor party or independent members were elected in 1989, but Davies retained his North Metropolitan seat as an independent in 1993 and Jim Scott of the Greens was elected in South Metropolitan, each winning seats at Labor’s expense. Despite comfortably retaining power at the 1996 election, the Coalition’s loss of an upper house seat cost it its majority, with further losses for Labor allowing the Greens to win three seats and the Democrats two. Former Labor member Mark Nevill held the balance of power after he quit the party to sit as an independent in August 1999.

The mould was broken at the 2001 election when both parties polled well below 40% in both houses, resulting in the Coalition losing four upper house seats (including two of the three held by the National Party) and Labor gaining only one. One Nation won seats at the expense of the Coalition in Agricultural, Mining & Pastoral, and South West. However, they were deprived of the balance of power by their own decision to put all major parties last on preferences, which helped the Greens win seats in Mining & Pastoral and Agricultural to augment the three they retained in the metropolitan area. All three One Nation members had quit what was left of the party by the 2005 election, at which each made an unsuccessful bid for re-election. The end of the One Nation interruption produced a more typical result in 2005, Labor winning 16 seats against 15 for the Liberals and one for the Nationals, with the Greens’ two members holding the balance of power.

The electoral reforms which took effect in 2008 were achieved with the support of the Greens and Alan Cadby, a Liberal member who had quit the party after being defeated for preselection. However, the former’s counter-intuitive insistence on maintaining rural vote weighting in the upper house produced a system which Labor’s outgoing president of the Legislative Council, Nick Griffiths, said would guarantee conservative majorities “short of a Labor landslide”. Whereas the existing formulation of regional vote weighting had been quite hard enough on the left, odd numbers of members at least meant Labor could hope for majority “left” results in the metropolitan regions plus Mining & Pastoral, collectively outweighing their disadvantage in Agricultural and South West. However, the norm now will be for even left-right splits in the stronger regions for Labor, with Agricultural having an entrenched right majority.

The challenging new environment faced by the left was underscored by the 2008 election result. The metropolitan area produced left-right parity with results of three Liberal, two Labor and one Greens in each of the three regions, to which the Liberals and Nationals added 12 non-metropolitan seats against just six for Labor and the Greens. This put the Nationals in a clear balance-of-power position and marginalised the Greens. Among the consequences was a weakened position for Labor as it sought to persuade the Nationals to maintain it in government after the election, as only an alliance with the Liberals would be guaranteed to deliver on any agreements reached in the upper house.

The boundaries for the six regions can be viewed here. The tables below identify only candidates who have a strong prospect of being elected. An asterisk indicates that the candidate is a sitting member. Preference tickets provide simplified versions of above-the-line preference calculations, based on assumptions about the likely order of election of major party candidates. Full candidate lists and grouped ticket preference allocations are available from the Western Australian Electoral Commission.

North Metropolitan

Liberal Labor Others
Peter Collier* Ken Travers* Cameron Poustie (GRN)
Michael Mischin* Ljiljanna Ravlich Henry Heng (FFP)
Liz Bejhat* Martin Pritchard Paul Bedford (SFP)
Outgoing members: Giz Watson (Greens); Ed Dermer (Labor).

North Metropolitan was one of the two regions which had seven members rather than five under the previous system, along with South West. The Liberals won four of the seven at the first two elections under the new system in 1989 and 1993, but dropped a seat in 1996 and did not recover it thereafter. Labor succeeded in winning a third seat at each election it won (1989, 2001 and 2005), but were down to two after the defeats of 1993, 1996 and 2008. An administrative error left Labor without an above-the-line voting option in 1993, which at least partly explained the loss of a seat to Reg Davies, a former Liberal turned independent. Giz Watson of the Greens and Helen Hodgson of the Democrats won seats in 1996, at the expense of the Liberals and Reg Davies. The 2001 election saw Watson re-elected but Hodgson’s seat falling to Labor for a result of three Labor, three Liberal and one Greens, which was repeated in 2005. The higher quota under the six-seat regime combined with the general swing left Labor with only 2.29 quotas in 2008, their surplus delivering a comfortable win to Giz Watson who polled 0.91 quotas in her own right. The likelihood of such an outcome had sent Labor’s third Labor member elected in 2005, Graham Giffard, to unsuccessfully contest the lower house seat of Swan Hills.

Liberal: The Liberal ticket is unchanged from the 2008 election, the order of candidates being Peter Collier, the Education and Energy Minister; Michael Mischin, the Attorney-General; and Liz Behjat, a back-bencher. Collier has a local party power base in what was once identified as the “Northern Alliance”, which helped him unseat Alan Cadby for preselection in 2005. Mischin is a former Department of Public Prosecutions lawyer, and Behjat a former electorate officer to federal Stirling MP Michael Keenan. Both entered parliament after the 2008 election. In fourth position is Peter Katsambanis, who held a seat in the Victorian Legislative Council from 1996 to 2002 and unsuccessfully challenged Bejhat for the number three position.

Labor: Labor’s ticket is headed by two high-profile front-benchers in Ken Travers, who as transport spokesperson has loomed large in the Metronet campaign, and Ljiljanna Ravlich, who was highly visible as a minister in the Gallop-Carpenter government, variously holding the education and local government portfolios. A member of the United Voice sub-faction of the Left, Travers has progressed from second to first on the Labor ticket with the retirement of Right faction member Ed Dermer, who like Travers was first elected in 1996. Ravlich is moving to North Metropolitan after previously serving since 1996 in East Metropolitan. Together with her partner Eric Ripper, Ravlich was a member of the now defunct Centre faction. When Ripper lost the leadership in January 2012, it was suggested that Ripper’s backers in the SDA/Old Right faction might now see no reason not to see Ravlich replaced with one of their own. Another SDA/Old Right member, former Wanneroo mayor Jon Kelly, was concurrently reported as having the numbers for a position in North Metropolitan if he so desired. However, Kelly – who withdrew as the federal candidate for Cowan in 2010 after his links with Brian Burke attracted unfavourable publicity – was not a starter, and the position was successfully contested by Ravlich.

Greens: After 16 as member, and being recognised as the party’s senior parliamentarian for most of that time, Giz Watson has embarked upon a bold bid to expand the party’s base by running in South West region. The new Greens candidate in North Metropolitan is Cameron Poustie, a party staffer and former solicitor for the Environmental Defender’s Office and the Conservation Council of WA.

South Metropolitan

Liberal Labor Others
Simon O’Brien* Sue Ellery* Lynn MacLaren (GRN)*
Nick Goiran* Kate Doust* Jim McCourt (FFP)
Phil Edman* Anne Wood Bob Burdett (AC)

South Metropolitan returned two Labor, two Liberal and one Greens member at three of its five elections as a five-member region, with Labor winning a third seat at the Greens’ expense in 1989 and 2005. The six-seat regime helped the Greens recover the seat in 2008, with the remainder dividing three for Liberal and two for Labor in common with the other metropolitan regions. The talk of the early count in 2005 was that the final seat might go to Murray McKay of the Fremantle Hospital Support Group off 1.3% of the vote, but a late-count resurgence by the Liberals ironically ensured that the seat stayed with Labor, as their preferences to the Christian Democratic Party caused McKay to fall behind them at a key point in the count. Right-wing preferences pushed the Liberals well over three quotas in 2008, giving them enough surplus to determine the final seat for the Greens over Labor.

Labor: Incumbents Sue Ellery and Kate Doust lead the Labor ticket for the fourth successive election, the top position having been held by Doust in 2005 and by Ellery in 2001, 2008 and now 2013. A member of the Left faction, Ellery was Child Protection and Community Services Minister from March 2007 until the September 2008 election defeat, and has retained those portfolios in opposition. Doust was elevated to the front bench after the 2008 election defeat, serving in energy, science and innovation until the leadership change in January 2012, when she moved to commerce and consumer protection. She is associated with the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association and its attendant “Old Right” faction, and is married to another of its powerbrokers, Cannington MP Bill Johnston. Third on the ticket is Anne Wood, who was the unsuccessful candidate for Jandakot in 2008.

Liberal: The three sitting members remain at the top of the ticket in the same order as the 2008 election. Simon O’Brien was first elected in 1996, promoted to the front bench after the 2001 election defeat, and in government held the transport and disability services portfolios until December 2010, moving to finance, commerce and small business thereafter. The second and third candidates, Nick Goiran and Phil Edman, were both elected for the first time in 2008. Both were mentioned as possible candidates to succeed Christian Porter in Bateman when he announced his move to federal politics in mid-2012. The West Australian reported Goiran controlled the only branch in the electorate eligible to provide preselection delegates, and had been urged to make the move as a path to quicker promotion. However, Goiran did not end up a starter, while Edman ran unsuccessfully.

Greens: The Greens’ seat in South Metropolitan was held by Jim Scott from 1993 to 2004, when he stepped aside to run unsuccessfully for Fremantle at the election held in February 2005. The seat was then held briefly by Colorado-born Lynn MacLaren, who moved to Western Australia from the United States at the age of 20 in 1982 and has retained most of her accent. MacLaren failed to retain the seat at the ensuing election, but had better luck on her second attempt in 2008. She had worked for Jim Scott and Giz Watson before entering parliament, and for the Western Australian Council of Social Service during the interregnum.

East Metropolitan

Liberal Labor Others
Helen Morton* Alanna Clohesy Alison Xamon (GRN)*
Donna Faragher* Samantha Rowe Paul Barrett (FFP)
Alyssa Hayden* Amber Jade Sanderson Dwight Randall (AC)
Outgoing members: Ljiljanna Ravlich (Labor); Linda Savage (Labor).

East Metropolitan returned three Labor and two Liberal members at four of its five elections as a five-member region, the exception being 1996 when Norm Kelly of the Democrats won a seat from Labor. It was a measure of Labor’s poor performance in the metropolitan area in 2008 that they were unable to win a third seat despite the region’s expansion to six members, the result being three Liberal, two Labor and one Greens.

Liberal: The three Liberals elected at 2008 have maintained their positions at the top of the ticket, and in the same order. Numbers one and two are Helen Morton and Donna Faragher, both of whom entered parliament in 2005. Morton has served as Mental Health Minister since December 2010. She was elevated in a reshuffle held both to accommodate Troy Buswell’s return to cabinet and to fill the gap created when the number two candidate, Donna Faragher, stood aside as Environment Minister ahead of the birth of her child. Faragher, who was a staffer to former Senator Chris Ellison before entering parliament, has since remained on the back bench. Number three is Alyssa Hayden, who worked for former federal Hasluck MP Stuart Henry and then for Senator Judith Adams before her election in 2008.

Labor: Labor has a ticket of three new women candidates in Alanna Clohesy, who is the state party president, a staffer to Senator Louise Pratt and a member of the Left faction; Samantha Rowe, business development manager at the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia and sister of Belmont candidate Cassie Rowe; and Amber Jade Sanderson, assistant secretary of the powerful Left faction union United Voice. The incumbents, Ljiljanna Ravlich and Linda Savage, have respectively moved to North Metropolitan and been dumped at preselection. Ravlich had been a member since 1996, while Savage came to parliament on a recount in 2010 after the death of AMWU Left powerbroker Jock Ferguson, who was elected from the top of the ticket in 2008. Savage was the unsuccessful number three candidate in 2008, a position she contentiously secured on the insistence of Alan Carpenter at the expense of incumbent Batong Pham, who at the time was in a wheelchair recovering from a stroke. Many blamed Pham’s dumping for a substantial loss of support for Labor among the Vietnamese community. Savage has blamed her loss of preselection on her factional non-alignment.

Greens: The Greens’ seat is held by Alison Xamon, who was a labour lawyer and an official with the Teachers Union before becoming the first Greens candidate to win a seat in East Metropolitan region in 2008.

South West

Liberal Labor Others
Robyn McSweeney* Sally Talbot* Colin Holt (NAT)*
Barry House* Adele Farina* Giz Watson (GRN)
Nigel Hallett* John Mondy Sam Harma (NAT)

One of the two seven-member regions under the old regime, South West returned four Coalition members (three Liberal and one National) from 1989 to 2001, when Paddy Embry of One Nation was elected at the expense of the Nationals member. Labor won three seats in 1989 and 1993 before dropping one in 1996 to Christine Sharp of the Greens, who was re-elected in 2001. Paul Llewellyn retained the Greens seat upon Sharp’s retirement in 2005 with help from the Nationals, who directed preferences to them ahead of Family First (much to the chagrin of Wilson Tuckey), while Embry’s seat was won by Labor – thus producing South West’s first four-three split in favour of the left. It was a very different story with the introduction of six-seat regions at the 2008 election, when the swing against Labor cost them a third seat, the Nationals secured a seat for the first time since 1996, and the Greens were left high and dry by the higher quota.

Labor: For the third election in a row, the Labor ticket will be headed by Sally Talbot and Adele Farina. Farina topped the ticket in 2005, while Talbot did so in 2008 and will do so again in 2013. Talbot is a member of the Left, and has served as Shadow Environment Minister since the 2008 election defeat, together with stints in planning and indigenous affairs. Farina was once associated with the now defunct Centre faction and is now an independent. Farina told the Corruption and Crime Commission in December 2006 that her career was “severely at risk” because she refused to do the bidding of Brian Burke. Her position on the ticket at the 2008 election was secured on the insistence of Alan Carpenter, which was achieved by shifting Matt Benson-Lidholm, elected from number three in 2005, to the top of the Agricultural ticket. It was reported in March 2012 that the Right had approached Peter Tagliaferri, former Fremantle mayor and unsuccessful candidate at the Fremantle by-election in April 2009, with a view to having him replace Farina, but he said he was not interested as he believed Farina was doing a “good job”.

Liberal: For three elections in a row the top three positions on the Liberal ticket have been filled by Robyn McSweeney, Barry House and Nigel Hallett, with variations in the order. There were suggestions Hallett might be dumped to fourth at the expense of Bunbury barrister Ian Morison or Bunbury City councillor Michelle Steck, but they will respectively fill the unwinnable fourth and sixth places. House was dropped from one to three in 2008 and is now up to two, McSweeney went from two to one in 2008 and is staying there in 2013, and Hallett has gone from three to two and back again. All were preselected in 2008 ahead of Paul Omodei, the party’s leader from March 2006 to January 2008, who refused to stand and fight when the redistribution merged his seat of Warren-Blackwood with Nationals-held Stirling. Robyn McSweeney is the government’s Community Services and Women’s Interests Minister; Barry House was a shadow minister throughout the Gallop/Carpenter years and has served as Legislative Council President since the current term commenced in May 2009; and Nigel Hallett held minor portfolios in opposition but has been on the back bench since the election of the Barnett government.

Nationals: Colin Holt was an agricultural scientist before his election to parliament in 2008. He is joined on the Nationals ticket by Sam Harma, Young Nationals state president and candidate for Albany in 2008.

Greens: Giz Watson, generally regarded as the most senior of the Greens’ complement of four upper house members, will move from her existing safe position in North Metropolitan region to take on the dicey prospect of South West, in the hope that her profile will gain the party an extra seat. Watson won a preselection vote against Paul Llewellyn, who held a seat in the region from 2005 but failed in his bid for re-election in 2008.

Mining & Pastoral

Labor Liberal Nationals Others
Stephen Dawson Ken Baston* Jacqui Boydell Robin Chapple (GRN)*
Jim Murie Mark Lewis Dave Grills Ian Rose (FFP)
Shane Hill Eden Coad John McCourt John Parkes (SFP)
Outgoing members: Helen Bullock (Labor); Jon Ford (Labor); Norman Moore (Liberal); Wendy Duncan (Nationals).

Covering the greater part of the Western Australian land mass, Mining & Pastoral returned three Labor and two Liberal members at each election during its life as a five-member region from 1989 to 2005, with the exception of the 2001 eletion when One Nation and the Greens cost each of the major parties a seat. Labor lost a seat in 2008 despite the expansion to six members, with seats being won by the Greens and the Nationals. The Nationals success in polling 1.50 quotas (21.4%) was doubly remarkable given the party had not even bothered to field candidates in 2005, having traditionally had little presence outside of the agricultural south-west. Labor’s vote fell to 2.39 quotas, with preferences decisively allocating the surplus to the Greens, who polled 0.63.

Labor: Labor’s ticket has received an overhaul with the retirements of Jon Ford and Helen Bullock, who are respectively associated with the AMWU Left and the SDA Right (Bullock’s husband being union and factional powerbroker Joe Bullock). Number one on the new ticket is Stephen Dawson, a member of the AMWU Left who has worked as a ministerial staffer in Western Australia and Victoria, and stood unsuccessfully for the Willagee by-election preselection that was won by Peter Tinley. Number two is Jim Murie, assistant secretary of the Left faction Electrical Trades Union, who was the unsuccessful number three candidate in 2008. Number three this time is Shane Hill, who held the lower house seat of Geraldton from 2001 until his defeat in 2008. A perhaps quixotic interest in the preselection was expressed by Shelley Archer, the wife of colourful former CFMEU state secretary Kevin Reynolds and a member for the region from 2005 to 2009. Mark McGowan and the party organisation had other ideas, Archer having resigned from the party during the November 2007 federal election campaign in response to Alan Carpenter’s move to have her expelled over her links with Brian Burke.

Liberal: The Liberal ticket will be headed at this election by Ken Baston, a Carnarvon pastoralist who was elected from number two in 2005 and 2008. Baston held minor portfolios in opposition, but has been on the back bench since the election of the Barnett government. The top position has been vacated with the retirement of Norman Moore, a minister in the Court and Barnett governments and the party’s leader in the Legislative Council since 1996. Moore appeared in line for much desired position of Agent-General to London in late 2011, but he instead opted to serve out his term. The second candidate on the Liberal ticket, Carnarvon public servant Mark Lewis, was said at the time to have been in line to fill Moore’s casual vacancy.

Nationals: The Nationals’ successful candidate from 2008, Wendy Duncan, will contest the lower house seat of Kalgoorlie, to be vacated by retiring independent John Bowler. The party’s new lead candidate is its state party director, Jacqui Boydell, followed by Dave Grills, a Kalgoorlie police officer and the state party’s deputy president.

Greens: Robin Chapple has had two stints as the Greens member for Mining & Pastoral, having won the seat with help from One Nation preferences in 2001, lost it in their absence in 2005, and then recovered it after a surge in support for the party at the 2008 election. Prior to entering parliament he was prominent in Port Hedland as a councillor and environmental campaigner, and later worked as a research officer to Giz Watson.


Nationals Liberal Labor Others
Martin Aldridge Jim Chown* Darren West Max Trenorden (IND)*
Paul Brown Brian Ellis* Matt Benson-Lidholm* Philip Gardiner (IND)*
Jill Sounness Steven Martin Judy Riggs Andy Huntley (GRN)
Outgoing member: Mia Davies (Nationals)

After the Nationals’ remarkable success in winning three of the six seats in 2008, the contest for Agricultural in 2013 has been transformed with the top two elected Nationals from 2008, former party leader Max Trenorden and Philip Gardiner, breaking away from the party to run together on an independent ticket. The 2008 result did much to establish the conservatives’ present dominance of the upper house, with two Liberals joining the complement of three Nationals and leaving just one seat for Labor. The five elections held under the five-member regime from 1989 to 2005 each returned four seats for the Liberals and Nationals and one for Labor, with the exception of 2001 when the two parties each lost a seat. One Nation scoring enough of the vote on that occasion to elect Frank Hough and deliver a decisive surplus to the Greens candidate, former Senator Dee Margetts. When things returned to normal in 2005 it was the third Liberal candidate and not the second National who won the final seat. The key to this was a 9.4% rebound in the Liberal vote to an historically typical 39.4%, whereas the Nationals’ 19.3% was only 0.3% higher than 2001. The 2008 election saw the Nationals surge to 33.4% while the Liberals subsided to 32.6%, which was only partly a result of the transfer of the Liberal-voting Esperance and Ravensthorpe region to Mining & Pastoral.

Independent: Max Trenorden was the leader of the Nationals from 2001 until he was deposed by Grylls in 2006, and the member for the lower house seat of Avon from 1986 until 2008. The seat was then effectively merged with Merredin as a resut of the one-vote one-value redistribution, creating the new electorate of Central Wheatbelt. This set Trenorden on a collision course with his successor as leader for the new seat, with Grylls no certainty of seeing a determined Trenorden off. He was instead accommodated with the top position in Agricultural region, which was being vacated with the retirement of Murray Criddle, while the existing candidate Wendy Duncan agreed to contest Mining & Pastoral instead. The second of the three candidates elected with the Nationals’ ensuing electoral triumph was Philip Gardiner, a Moora farmer and former Macquarie Bank director who entered parliament at the age of 62. Trenorden was dumped from the ticket altogether for the coming election, prompting him to quit the party and for Gardiner to announce he would not contest the election out of solidarity. Trenorden originally contemplated running as an independent in Central Wheatbelt, to be vacated upon Brendon Grylls’ bid for Pilbara and contested for the Nationals by the party’s third Agricultural region winner from 2008, Mia Davies. He instead opted to run again in the upper house, and scored a coup with Gardiner agreeing to join him on the ticket.

Nationals: With Trenorden dumped altogether, the ticket chosen by the Nationals was led by Martin Aldridge, a former chief-of-staff to federal O’Connor MP Tony Crook, with Philip Gardiner in second place. Gardiner’s subsequent defection to the Trenorden ticket, together with Mia Davies’ move to Central Wheatbelt, have left the Nationals with an entirely new ticket, with the candidates chosen to run in third and fourth position promoted to two and three. The respective candidates are Paul Brown, who has extensive involvement in the live export industry, and Jill Sounness, who holds the position of principal policy adviser to Brendon Grylls.

Liberal: The two successful Liberal candidates from 2008, Jim Chown and Brian Ellis, have switched places at the top of the party’s ticket. Ellis came to parliament in 2007, filling a vacancy created by the retirement of Margaret Rowe, and assumed the top place on the ticket at the 2008 election in place of retiring Bruce Donaldson. Jim Chown took the place of Anthony Fels, whom the party dumped after the Corruption and crime Commission revealed he had moved a motion dictated to him by Noel Crichton-Browne. Fels then ran unsuccessfully as a Family First candidate, and is running this time as an independent. It was reported in May that the party’s state council had overridden the result of the local preselection vote and placed O’Connor division president Steven Martin at the top of the ticket, but evidently this was reversed. Martin will instead take the number three position.

Labor: Labor’s sole incumbent, Matt Benson-Lidholm, has been demoted from one to two, making way for Wheatbelt farmer and former Country Labor president Darren West, who was the party’s unsuccessful second candidate in 2008. Benson-Lidholm was first elected at the 2005 election as Labor’s third candidate in South West, moving to Agricultural in 2008 in an arrangement that preserved a position for Adele Farina in South West on the insistence of Alan Carpenter.

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

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