Margin: Liberal 9.4%
Region: South Metropolitan
Outgoing member: Christian Porter (Liberal)
Click here for electoral boundaries map
Electorate analysis: Chiefly notable in the context of the present election for the departure of Liberal member Christian Porter, Bateman covers southern suburbs from Brentwood west to Myaree and Winthrop and south through Bateman to Murdoch, together with Bull Creek on the eastern side of the Kwinana Freeway. Its name was changed when the one-vote one-value redistribution before the 2008 election placed Murdoch in the far south of the electorate. Murdoch had essentially existed since 1977, but was called Jandakot from 1989 to 1996. It was held by one-time Liberal leader Barry MacKinnon until 1993, Court government minister Mike Board from 1993 to 2005, and thereafter by former ABC sports commentator and WA league footballer Trevor Sprigg. Sprigg died suddenly in January 2008, on the very morning that the party room met to confirm Troy Buswell’s leadership takeover from Paul Omodei, and was succeeded by Christian Porter at a by-election held on February 23.
Porter had been a University of Western Australia law lecturer and Director of Public Prosecutions lawyer before entering parliament, and had a strong Liberal pedigree as the grandson of Charles Robert Porter, who locked horns with Joh Bjelke-Petersen as a Queensland Liberal MP in the 1970s, and the son of Charles “Chilla” Porter, a former state party director. After winning preselection ahead of former Workplace Relations Minister Graham Kierath and then going untroubled at the by-election, Porter was promptly made Shadow Attorney-General and was spoken of six weeks later as a viable replacement for the disaster-prone Buswell. In government he maintained the Attorney-General portfolio and further took on corrective services, winning significant promotion in December 2010 when he replaced Buswell as Treasurer while staying on as Attorney-General. In mid-2012 Porter made the surprise announcement that he would switch to federal politics by running in the vacant seat of Pearce, evidently having calculated he would be catching the federal party’s fortunes on the upswing.
There followed a protracted preselection process in Bateman which ended with the Liberal Party state council confirming, apparently with some reluctance, the endorsement of Matt Taylor, a sustainability consultant who had run in Willagee in 2008 and federally in Fremantle in 2010. Despite early talk of local branch support, South Metropolitan MLC Nick Goiran did not prove a starter, Gareth Parker of The West Australian noting that “influential colleagues” were concerned about his social conservatism. With no clear front-runner emerging, the state council went back and forth over whether it should unconventionally hold a plebiscite of all members, on the grounds that only one branch met the eligibility requirements to provide preselection delegates as per the usual practice.
A plebiscite was initially favoured, which would reportedly have been the less favourable option for Taylor, but there followed a change of mind and a ballot held by the one eligible branch. Taylor duly prevailed over a field that also included Phil Edman, MLC for South Metropolitan; Matt Brown, head of member advocacy at the RAC and twice-thwarted federal preselection nominee for Tangney; Simon Creek, a family lawyer with clients including Rose Porteous, who was said to be close to Porter; Jane Timmermanis, a lawyer for not-for-profit group Sussex Street Community Law Services; and Cam Tinley, a high school teacher. However, the state council initially refused to ratify the result and resolved to determine the matter directly, only to end up concurring with the party branch that Taylor was indeed to be preferred from the available candidates.