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.
“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.