The latest quarterly Newspoll of state voting intention in Western Australia (the only WA polling game in town now that The West Australian appears to have mothballed Westpoll) has delivered the Barnett government its strongest result yet: a 59-41 lead on two-party preferred from primary votes of 46 per cent for the Liberals (up four on the July-September poll), 4 per cent for the Nationals (down two), 29 per cent for Labor (steady) and 12 per cent for the Greens (down one). Colin Barnett has enjoyed a very healthy fillip on his personal ratings: up seven points on approval to 58 per cent and down seven on disapproval to 28 per cent, which I’m tempted to credit to CHOGM and its attendant photo opportunities. Eric Ripper can at least take solace in a four point drop in disapproval to 39 per cent, with his approval steady at 34 per cent, but Barnett’s already handsome lead as preferred premier has blown out further from 56-22 to 59-18. UPDATE: Tables, yet again, from GhostWhoVotes.
I also have a fair amount of material relating to next year’s election to unload which I’ve accumulated over the past few months. Much intelligence has emerged from a review of Labor preselection by Gary Adshead of The West Australian:
• An upper house seat in North Metropolitan is said to be there for the taking of former Wanneroo mayor Jon Kelly, “if he wants it”. Kelly is part of the “old Right” faction and enjoys the backing of its chieftain, Joe Bullock of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Union. He also has problematic associations with Brian Burke, which compelled him to withdraw as candidate for Cowan before the 2010 federal election. He also ran as an independent against Labor member Margaret Quick in Girrawheen in 2005 after a preselection dispute. There has also been talk that the North Metropolitan vacancy, to be created by the retirement of Ed Dermer, might also be of interest to Joe Bullock’s wife Helen, who presently holds an upper house seat in Agricultural region.
• Jon Kelly’s influence might also secure the preselection of Wanneroo councillor Brett Treby in Wanneroo, which Paul Miles holds for the Liberals with a margin of 0.7 per cent after unseating Labor’s Dianne Guise in 2008 with a swing of 6.9 per cent.
• Nollamara MP Janine Freeman is said to be considering proving her worth by recovering the neighbouring seat of Morley for Labor. Morley is a naturally Labor seat which has been made notionally so by the redistribution, turning Liberal member Ian Britza’s 0.9 per cent margin into a 0.8 per cent margin for Labor. Labor’s unexpected defeat in the seat was largely down to Alan Carpenter’s insistence that preselection go to Channel Seven journalist Reece Whitby at the expense of the sitting member, the late John D’Orazio, whose decision to run as an independent and direct preferences to the Liberals helped fuel a 10.8 per cent swing. Labor can be confident that D’Orazio’s supporters will revert to type when presented with a normal two-party contest.
• Reece Whitby is said to be still hopeful of a parliamentary career, and if thwarted in Morley might instead take a punt on Balcatta, assuming the incumbent John Kobelke chooses to retire.
• For their part, the Liberals are said to be “gaining confidence that with the right candidate, possibly a man called John Halligan, they could knock off (Margaret) Quirk in Girrawheen”, where the redistribution has cut Labor’s margin from 11.5 per cent to 6.7 per cent.
• Nicholas Perpitch of The Australian reports that 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 her profile will gain the party an extra seat. Watson won a mid-December preselection vote against Paul Llewellyn, who held a seat in the region from 2005 but failed in his bid for re-election in 2008.
• It has been widely reported that Josh Byrne, a presenter on ABC Television’s Gardening Australia program, has spoken with the ALP about standing as its candidate for the state seat of Fremantle. Labor held the seat without interruption from 1934 until 2009, when Adele Carles won the seat for the Greens at a by-election which followed the retirement of Labor heavyweight Jim McGinty. Carles now sits as an independent after parting company with the Greens in circumstances which have most rating her an unlikely prospect for re-election.
• Peter Kerr of the Financial Review reported in mid-October that the Nationals were “close to scoring a major political coup” by enlisting Michele Pucci, chairman of the federal government’s local Regional Development Australia advisory body, as its candidate for Kimberley. Pucci had been named by the current Labor member, Carol Martin, as her preferred successor her when she retires at the next election. The Financial Review report also quoted Sally Talbot, upper house member for South West region, denying speculation she might run for Labor. Martin held the seat with a 6.8 per cent margin at the 2008 election, with the Liberals polling 26.0 per cent and the Nationals 18.3 per cent.
• The ABC quotes “Liberal sources” saying Matt Birney, who held Kalgoorlie for the Liberals from 2001 until 2008 and led the party for a year after the February 2005 election, is considering returning to politics by running against independent Janet Woollard in the naturally conservative Perth seat of Alfred Cove.
• Andrew Crook of Crikey reports that Hannah Beazley, daughter of Kim and marketing manager at private girls school Penhros College, aspires to stand for Labor in Jandakot or Riverton, which were respectively lost by Labor at the last election to Joe Francis and Mike Nahan. Crook reports that Beazley is “factionally non-aligned but would be expected to secure support from both arms of the warring WA Labor party, especially if her father was to officially endorse her in campaign literature”.
• A fracas over the CFMEU’s attempt to reaffiliate with the state party two years after its colourful leadership figures Joe McDonald and Kevin Reynolds cut it loose has been referred by the party’s state executive to February’s state conference. The party’s administrative committee had earlier ruled the union had not submitted the required documentation to allow it representation on the state executive, which under the membership figures claimed by the CFMEU would amount to 13 delegates out of 216 for purposes of preselection votes. A Right source quoted by Andrew Crook in Crikey said this was motivated by a desire to thwart the resulting shift in the balance of power away from the Left (the CFMEU being of the “Centre”, but having strong historical and personal ties to the Brian Burke Right), which could potentially affect preselections in Fremantle, Bassendean and Cockburn. However, it does not seem to be in dispute that the administrative committee’s decision was backed by independent legal advice. Andrew Crook reports the union’s readmission is a formality: a Right source says that only United Voice (the artists formerly known as the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union) is opposed, but a Left source argues that a union which botched its paperwork in this fashion could normally expect a 15 per cent penalty on its delegate entitlement.
• Legislation to fix election dates for the second Saturday in March completed its passage through parliament in early November.
• A flurry of speculation as to who might be Norman Moore’s ministerial and parliamentary successor has been scotched after he withdrew his nomination to assume the position of Agent-General to London. Mark Lewis, a Carnarvon-based public servant who was number three on the Liberal ticket in 2008, was mentioned in relation to his Mining and Pastoral upper house seat. The Kalgoorlie Miner reported figures in the mining industry wished for him to be succeeded as Mines and Petroleum Minister by Kalgoorlie MP John Bowler, a former Labor government minister who won his seat as an independent in 2008 and is now loosely affiliated with the Nationals.