Margin: Labor 10.1%
Region: South Metropolitan
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Electorate analysis: The southernmost of the metropolitan electorates, Warnrbo extends along the coast from Warnbro proper through rapidly developing Secret Harbour and Golden Bay to Singleton, and encompasses another growth area in Baldivis, located inland of Warnbro. The redistribution has transferred around 1500 voters at the northern end of Baldivis to Kwinana, adding 0.4% to the Labor margin. Warnbro was created at the 2008 election in place of abolished Peel, which Norm Marlborough held from its creation in 1989 until recorded phone conversations revealed by the Corruption and Crime Commission in late 2006 sensationally revealed the extent of his dealings with Brian Burke. His subsequent resignation triggered a by-election for Peel in February 2007, which gave the beleagured Carpenter government what proved in hindsight to be a misleadingly morale-boosting win with a rare pro-government swing.
The new Labor member was Paul Papalia, a counter-terrorism expert and decorated former navy diver who served in Iraq during the 2003 war and as part of the United Nations weapons inspection regime in 1992 and 1993. A member of the Right faction backed at the time by Alan Carpenter, Papalia reportedly won a narrow victory in the state party administrative committee’s preselection vote over the Left-backed Pamela Kay. Kwinana mayor and Police Union solicitor Carol Adams had earlier been mentioned as the front-runner, and would run as an independent in Kwinana at the 2008 election after being overlooked for Labor preselection there as well, falling narrowly short of blocking Roger Cook’s entry to parliament in doing so.
Papalia was elevated to the front bench after the 2008 election defeat, taking on local government and corrective services. However, he was stripped of the latter portfolio after backing Ben Wyatt’s abortive leadership challenge in January 2011, which also resulted in him, Wyatt, Mark McGowan and other members of the Right who had supported the challenge being frozen out of the faction. As with Wyatt, who recovered his old position of Shadow Treasurer, Papalia’s fortunes improved when Mark McGowan became leader, earning him promotion to the education and agriculture portfolios.