The West Australian has published one of its increasingly infrequent Westpoll surveys (conducted by Patterson Market Research) of state voting intention, this one showing the Liberal-National government with a 54-46 lead over the Labor opposition, from primary votes of 35% for Labor, 47% for the Liberals, 2% for the Nationals (I don’t normally read much into poll results for the Nationals, but this seems surprisingly low) and 8% for the Greens. This concurs with the last result from Newspoll, covering the January to March quarter, in finding a considerable narrowing since Mark McGowan assumed the Labor leadership, while still leaving the Liberals short-priced favourites to win the election that will be held on March 9 next year. There has also been a striking decline in Colin Barnett’s rating as preferred Premier: on Westpoll’s reckoning it was never less than 39% when Eric Ripper was Labor leader, but the current poll has it at just 5% (42% to 37%). The poll also shows 60% expecting the government to be returned, against 28% who think Labor will win. As is the norm with Westpoll, this comes from a small sample of 400, with a margin of error of nearly 5%.
UPDATE: Further results from the poll show 42% believing themselves to have benefited from the mining boom, 23% responding it was “harming their ability to make ends meet”, and 33% saying neither.
We should also get a new quarterly Newspoll result for Western Australia some time next week, bringing a sudden end to a very fallow period for polling just nine months out from the next election. There have now been five polls for WA published this year, of which only two have had substantial samples, accounting for a combined total of about 2700 respondents. This compares with roughly 70 federal polls conducted over the same period, covering more than 87,000 respondents, none of which told us anything we didn’t know already. One effect of this is that I have accumulated a mountain of preselection news since Newspoll last provided the occasion for a dedicated Western Australian thread three months ago. I’m now unloading the material relating to the lower house, and will hold back on the upper house until Newspoll.
• Liberal preselectors in Churchlands have rebuffed Colin Barnett by delivering a resounding defeat to his preferred candidate, restaurateur Kate Lamont. Sean L’Estrange, a former army lieutenant-colonel and Afghanistan veteran, defeated Lamont by a margin of 22 to 5. The naturally conservative seat has long been held by Liz Constable, an independent who serves as Education Minister in Barnett’s government, and is considered certain to be won by the Liberals with her retirement at the next election. Lamont was granted dispensation to nominate at Barnett’s initiative despite the deadline having passed, and the fact she had only recently joined the party. Barnett was reportedly dismayed that no women had emerged in the initial field of five nominees, given the party’s present contingent of two women out of 24 members in the Legislative Assembly (Tony Barrass of The Australian reports former Australian Medical Association federal president Rosanna Capolingua had earlier been approached). Many in the party were angered when Barnett reacted to Lamont’s defeat by complaining that an “exceptional person” and “potential Premier” (whom he nonetheless didn’t know “all that well”) had been passed over in preference for a merely “good person”. Mark McGowan responded by suggesting she might care to run for Labor instead. Perhaps tellingly, The West Australian wrote in May of “a perception among some Liberals that (Lamont) is too close to State and Federal Labor figures”. Candidates who fell by the wayside earlier in the Liberal preselection process included Richard Wilson, the 30-year-old chief of staff to Energy Minister Peter Collier, and another late female entrant, Jane Timmermanis, a lawyer for not-for-profit group Sussex Street Community Law Services who ran unsuccessfully for the Nedlands preselection before the 2008 election.
• Christian Porter’s surprise announcement that he will enter federal politics at the next election has created a Liberal preselection vacancy in his safe southern suburbs seat of Bateman. The West Australian initially reported Liberal sources saying the position could be filled by Sean L’Estrange, but this was made redundant by his success in the Churchlands preselection. Suggestions the seat might offer a fall-back option for Kate Lamont following her defeat by L’Estrange were quickly dismissed. Another candidate mentioned by The West Australian was Simon Creek, a lawyer and Porter’s campaign chairman.
• Another Liberal seat under the spotlight is the northern suburbs electorate of Hillarys, after its 69-year-old member Rob Johnson was dumped as Police Minister in the reshuffle that followed Porter’s exit from cabinet. Johnson responded by publicly accusing Colin Barnett of betraying him, claiming he had earlier agreed to keep him until the election when he would exit the front bench of his own volition. The West Australian reports rumours that Johnson had threatened to quit the Liberal Party and run as an independent if he wasn’t guaranteed the Speakership after the election.
• Simon Morgan, who made headlines in 2008 for anonymously running an anti-Ted Baillieu blog while serving as Victorian Liberal campaign director, and for describing former federal Liberal MP Fran Bailey as a “stupid fat bitch” (along with numerous other character assessments), has won Liberal endorsement to take on John Quigley in the outer northern suburbs seat of Butler (presently known as Mindarie). Paige Taylor of The Australian reports Morgan worked for Luke Simpkins, the federal member for Cowan, before moving to a position with new WA Liberal senator Dean Smith in early June. Quigley boosted his margin from 6.9% to 9.5% against the trend of the 2008 election, and received a further 1.9% boost with the redistribution.
• Josie Farrer, former Halls Creek shire president and deputy chair of the Kimberley Development Commission, has been preselected as Labor’s candidate to succeed the retiring Carol Martin in Kimberley. Martin became the first indigenous woman elected to the state parliament in 2001, and Farrer will become the second if successful. She must first see off Nationals candidate Michele Pucci, chairman of the federal government’s local Regional Development Australia advisory body, whom Martin identified at the time of her retirement announcement as her preferred successor as Labor candidate. Labor’s margin in the seat is 6.8%.
• Labor has preselected Janet Pettigrew as its candidate for the inner northern surburbs seat of Balcatta, which will be vacated at the election with the retirement of John Kobelke. The ABC reports Pettigrew was chosen ahead of Stirling deputy mayor David Michael. Labor’s margin in Balcatta was cut from 9.2% to 2.3% in 2008 (which becomes 2.2% after the redistribution).
• Labor has reopened nominations for the Liberal-held northern suburbs marginal seat of Swan Hills with an evident view to running as its candidate Ian Radisich, a project management consultant and the brother of the late former member Jaye Radisich. The initially preselected candidate, Dee Perry, has agreed to stand aside. Jaye Radisich won the seat for Labor for the first time at the 2001 election, but bowed out in 2008 after failing to win backing for a move to the safer neighbouring seat of West Swan. She succumbed to cancer in March 2012 at the age of 35. Frank Alban holds the seat for the Liberals on a margin of 3.5%.
• The Central Midlands and Coastal Advocate reports the Nationals have resolved a brace of lower house preselections, the prize pick being the endorsement of Dandaragan Shire president Shane Love to succeed the retiring Grant Woodhams in Moore. Also confirmed is Esperance pastoralist Colin de Grussa to run against Liberal member Graeme Jacobs in Eyre, having seen off a rival contender in Esperance business owner David Eagles.
• The West Australian has reported on a number of confirmed or likely Liberal candidates for fairly secure Labor seats: City of Perth councillor Eleni Evangel in Perth, former Belmont mayor Glenys Godfrey in Belmont and Ishar Multicultural Women’s Centre chief executive Andrea Creado in Mirrabooka. “Teacher Mark Harrington and interpreter Jesse Jacobs” have both nominated for Cannington.
• Joondalup councillor Philippa Taylor has won an unopposed Labor preselection for the outer northern suburbs seat of Ocean Reef, which Albert Jacob holds for the Liberals on a margin of 2.7%, cut from 4.4% after the redistribution.