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WA election minus three days

With internal polling reportedly pointing to a pro-government swing of up to 5%, WA Labor is hoping the prospect of a Troy Buswell premiership will persuade voters to think again.

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“I’M NOT SICK” blares the front page headline of today’s West Australian, with Colin Barnett dismissing “whispers from across the political divide” as “bullshit”. Labor front-bencher Ken Travers said yesterday Barnett was “looking tired”, and claimed he had taken five days off during the campaign (which the Liberals reject). The editorial in the Sunday Times over the weekend similarly faulted Barnett for having “at times appeared tired and a little flat”, while nonetheless endorsing the return of his government. McGowan, 45, will devote the last four days of the campaign to a demanding four-day tour of 20 seats, the idea being to project an image of vitality in contrast to 62-year-old Barnett.

Much of Labor’s late advertising has sought to lead thoughts of a faltering Barnett to a vote-winning conclusion by invoking the prospect of a Troy Buswell as his successor, with Mark McGowan mentioning the Treasurer’s name nine times during Monday’s campaign launch speech. Helpfully, The West Australian today quotes an unidentified Liberal backbencher relating rumours that Buswell agreed to relinquish the leadership in 2008 on the understanding he would resume it down the track, by which time it was presumed the chair-sniffing furore would have died down (and also that no new furores would emerge – a forlorn hope if so).

For their part, the Liberals are trading off hostility towards the federal government with television advertising portraying Labor as “a mess”. This notion is further exploited in radio advertising with reference to the $1.4 billion gap between Labor’s costing of its Metronet proposals and the figure produced on Friday by Treasury.

Horse race latest:

• The West Australian reported last week that Labor internal polling showed their position weakening between a fortnight and a week ago. At the start of that period the tracking polling of target metropolitan marginals had Labor facing a swing of between 2.5% and 3.5%, but by the end the polling was said to be in line with the 56-44 Galaxy result – suggesting a swing upwards of 4%.

• And now a further week on, Rebecca Carmody of the ABC reports a Labor source saying the party is bracing for a swing of around 5%, and putting “most of that down to voter dislike of Ms Gillard”.

Joe Spagnolo of The Sunday Times reported Nationals internal polling shows Brendon Grylls is set to win Pilbara with “as much as 40% of the primary vote”, while it is “understood” that Liberal polling “could” have Grylls “as high as” 46%. Grylls is also quoted saying the party still regards itself as a show to knock off Liberal MP Graham Jacobs in Eyre despite Labor’s direction of preferences to the Liberals.

Joe Spagnolo of The Sunday Times further reports a “final week blitz” by the Liberals targeting Forrestfield, Joondalup, Balcatta and Albany, with Kimberley, West Swan and Collie-Preston identified as a “next tier of very winnable seats”. Labor is said to be targeting Balcatta, Belmont, Pilbara and Kimberley. All of these are defensive plays, but Wanneroo, Mount Lawley and Riverton appear to have been thrown into the mix to help take them all the way should things turn out better than anticipated.

• Speaking on 6PR yesterday, Barry Urquhart of Marketing Focus discussed research showing rising utilities bills were having little bearing on voters’ thinking. Concern was instead focused on “infrastructure, congestion and the cost of living and therefore lifestyle stresses”, with voters placing considerable value on the virtues of “stability and security”, to the advantage of the government.

William Bowe — Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe

Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, is one of the most heavily trafficked forums for online discussion of Australian politics, and joined the Crikey stable in 2008.

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37 comments

37 thoughts on “WA election minus three days

  1. Interesting that there has been no Westpoll recently. How come?

    Another point to make is how ch7 did not cover the Murray Cowper story at all last night. Where as 9 & ABC led with it. Talk about running interference. 7 have a rusted on audience in this state which confounds ratings agencies to this day. Combine that with The West Australian and any idiot wearing a Liberal hat can get elected. Which is what we’re seeing.

    I’m hoping labor do better than predicted – they deserve to.

  2. Curious how infrastructure and congestion are key issues for voters – yet the Liberals are leading all the polls.

    Clearly, Labor’s message is not being listened to. Perhaps next election it will be different.

  3. In 1996 WA labor minimised their losses but maybe this defensive strategy is more difficult now: voters even more volatile and Labor’s northern heartlands thing of the past.

  4. Given the population distribution would a 5% swing have to be reflected as a swing to the government in the metro area?

    Could we have 1 – 2% against the Government at least in outer non-Western suburbs areas, with strong swings to the Nationals in the bush and libs in their own seats?

    Pretty desperate I know but at best Barnett will just waste 4 years with silly pond projects and bush bribes.

  5. Silentmajority: Having the same newsreaders for almost 30 years probably helps. I remember Anne Conti, and Peter Holland when he had a moustache, but I don’t remember any other Channel 7 newsreaders except the current two (and I’m around that awkward “not-young-any-more” sorta age). It’s gotta count for something.

    Election minus seven days: my mum called me up from the little wheatbelt town I grew up in, picking my brains for advice on how to vote as she hasn’t got a clue about most of them. I ummed and ahhed a bit, and have probably convinced her to vote for Mia Davies in the lower house and Labor in the upper house (that’s despite me probably voting John Hyde lower, Greens upper). I had to explain that you don’t actually have to vote in the exact order on the HTV cards from whichever party (she thought it might make your vote invalid if you don’t). She’s been voting since Whitlam was PM and she just learned that last Saturday.

    Mum’s assorted views on things:

    (1) The Tier 3 rail closure is a big issue, for putting more trucks on local roads that can’t handle the increased traffic. (If you’re off a major highway, roads are often quite crap in the wheatbelt. Sometimes you can even spot the boundary between shires by the change in quality of road surface.)

    (2) Max Trenorden is apparently a good bloke. She’s dealt with him a couple of times for work stuff, and he was friendly, helpful and got stuff done for them. That’d be that local-member effect… maybe he should’ve run for Central Wheatbelt instead.

    (3) “If McGowan wins, how are they not going to build all that stuff near the river, when they’ve started doing the roadworks and digging things up for it already?” I didn’t really have a good answer for her there… I remember some Lib (Katie Hodson-Thomas, maybe?) saying something similar in 2005 about the big hole in the ground that later became Esplanade train station.

    And if you’re wondering, I know bugger-all about how she’s voted before now. I was in my mid-20’s before I heard a political opinion from her, just after Gillard became PM. She wasn’t very impressed by that, doesn’t her very much, but really doesn’t like Abbott. She wouldn’t vote for the CDP for resons that don’t belong online, but apart from that I’ve got no idea. Mums ain’t for politics. 🙂

  6. Most of the Liberal marginalsis likely to get the sophomore bounce, there really is not much to see here, the public thinks they made the right choice last time, the Liberals will get a majority in their own right

  7. it is worth remembering that but for Buswell Colin Barnett would have left politics four years ago. He certainly doesnt look like a man who has enjoyed the last month or so, whether that is a health thing or he just finds campaigning so beneath him time will tell. I find it hard to believe he will hang around for much more than a year. Interesting that The West also had a story flagging a comeback by Matt Birney. Really does underline how bereft of talent they are in the Parliamentary party.

  8. Is Ken Travers a Doctor Who fan? The suggestion that Colin Barnett is looking tired seems to be ripped off from the plot of an episode a few years ago when the Doctor did the same in order to destabilise the British PM. Reminds of the federal Labor minister caught ripping off a speech from a Michael Douglas movie.

  9. @7 – you seem to have forgotten about that ALP Legend, the Strategic Master Alan Carpenter – called an election as soon as Barnett retook the leadership in an effort to hide the first two weeks of the campaign in the Beijing Olympics and then parachute in is Captain’s Picks.

    So to rephrase your opeing gambit – “it is worth remembering that but for Carpenter Colin Barnett would have left politics four years ago.”

    Did I mention Bob’s Back!

  10. @silentmajority – because they are fucking expensive and a Westpol isn’t going to add anything to what is already known – maybe they want new news.

  11. Wewantpaul – you use the terminolgy “bush bribes” – yet, the ALP are committed to retaining “bush bribes”.

    Get your story straight, champ.

  12. Crank

    Nice try a rewriting history. Barnett had annouced he was leaving politccs and his replacement endorsed when Buswell imploded and the Libs turned to him in desperation. Then Carpenter called the early election because he figured the Libs were in disarray. That was a really dumb thing to do but he probably would have lost whenever the poll was called.

  13. @13 – “probably would have lost”??? Carpenter had a massive preferred Premier rating and generally positive polling prior to the call.

  14. [Wewantpaul – you use the terminolgy “bush bribes” – yet, the ALP are committed to retaining “bush bribes”.]

    Carpenter offered them – when I heard mcGowan discuss it I was pretty sure he was talking about something different to the current rorts for votes – I mean regions.

  15. Barny hasn’t got the energy- whether that swings votes is another thing. Anyway looks like he’s done a modern liberal record by lasting a full term!!

  16. From the other thread:

    I’ve just returned from having dinner at the ancestral home.

    Before dining, an ad for Barnett came on the telly. Part of the pitch was that he was going to keep up the record spend on infrastructure, AND keep taking the fight to Canberra.

    My Mum, aged 74, suddenly burst out, “You lying sack of shit. All of that infrastructure depends on getting money from Canberra.”

    Never been so proud of her in all my life.

  17. CC
    The preferred PM messure is almost meaningless. How could you compare how a person is doing a job comparing with a person not doing a job

    all it is is a popularity contest and have almost no bearing on when someone have to go to the ballot box and ask who is best to run the state for the next 10 year

    In fact having a lower preferred PM rating is probably a good thing, it means there is more soft vote there for you to pick up. Unless you are the premier and everyone thinks you are shit

  18. Today’s front page of the West: “Why we did the Harlem Shake”. Yep, it’s about that stupid meme dance and some miners who got fired over a video of it. Two days from the election… yep, state politics is a sideshow.

  19. Just got off a train. Was packed Buswell may enjoy the uninvited touches and touching in a packed train the majority of us don’t.

    Passengers were left at stations.

    The train was half size because there isn’t enough carriages. The audio announcements were not functioning.

    Vote 1 metronet – put the tired hopeless lying libs last.

  20. Pretty disgraceful beatup by WA Labor regarding Buswell. Reeks of the desperation of a party bereft of meaningful ideas. This is up there with the “A vote for Howard is a vote for Costello” that we heard just about every election during the Howard years.

  21. WA ALP is following the Anna Bligh playbook – making spurious unfounded allegations without any evidence about Barnett’s health, longevity and succesor – worked well for her, too.

    Bob’s Back! C’Mon Mt Lawley – you know you want it.

  22. Unless you count the “Barnett’s had five days off” thing though, I’m not aware of any reason to think that Labor has been making claims about his health. Gareth Parker of The West said the first time his health in particular came on to their radar was when his office called and told them to ask him about it.

  23. [Pretty disgraceful beatup by WA Labor regarding Buswell. Reeks of the desperation of a party bereft of meaningful ideas. This is up there with the “A vote for Howard is a vote for Costello” that we heard just about every election during the Howard years.]

    Yeah they should have had a centerpiece campaign idea like a comprehensive public transport plan – clearly run out of ideas.

    Perth central train station a total disaster trains delayed crowds on platforms.

  24. Crowds on Platforms – OMG!! What terrible management.

    You must hate going to popular public events – you wouldn’t believe how crowded it gets at Suni Oval when the Eagles play – poor management really, isn’t it.

    Bob’s Back!!!!

  25. CC don’t want to get your hopes up but my wife ran into McGowan and Bob campaigning in Mt Lawley today. then he was off to Morley. Go Bob!

  26. [Crowds on Platforms – OMG!! What terrible management.]

    What a very liberal attitude. Four and a half years deliberate underfunding and non-investment and even yes it there fault when lines fail and crowds build.

    But it was ok, after people had waited and sweated and crowded into a train, there were 20 Labor people at the station reminding them that a good government doesn’t underfund and uninvest in public transport and then abuse those using it for expecting a competent level of service.

    What a very liberal entitled contemptuous attitude you have.

  27. [@29 “total disaster” – bit of hyperbowl there old boy.]

    yeah just a bit but how hard is it to properly service trains and run a reliable service. Labor managed it, these clowns have deliberately dropped the ball, like you they do not value public transport and think users of it should be treated like c$#p.

  28. Wewantpaul @36 – I work in the city and use both buses and trains. I think we have the best trains in Australia (haven’t used brisssie ones though).

    All major cities in the world have crowded public transport. If they weren’t crowded then that would be inefficient use of resources and unaffordable.

    Bob’s Back

    (disclaimer – I’m his driver on Saturday and yes I am a member of the Liberal Party, Perth branch)