Margin: Nationals 10.2% versus Liberal
Region: South West
* Name changed from Blackwood-Stirling in redistribution
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Electorate analysis: The South West electorate of Warren-Blackwood resumes the name it travelled under from 1996 to 2008 with the new redistribution, having spent one term with the name Blackwood-Stirling. That name reflected its absorption of areas including the shires of Plantagenet and Cranbrook from the abolished electorate of Stirling in 2008, which have now been transferred together with their 4000 voters to Wagin. Compensating transfers of around 4000 voters each have been received at the Shire of Donnybrook-Balingup from Collie-Preston in the north and Margaret River in the west. The changes weaken the Nationals relative to the Liberals, as well as introducing an area of strong Greens support around Margaret River. The electorate now encompasses the southern coast from Margaret River and Augusta to Walpole and Denmark, together with the old timber towns of Pemberton, Manjimup, Bridgetown and Nannup.
Warren-Blackwood was preceded by the electorate of Warren, which the timber industry had kept in Labor hands from its creation in 1950 until 1989. Labor’s strength evaporated suddenly and permanently in 1989, when Paul Omodei seized the seat for the Liberals with a margin of 10.8% after the retirement of Labor veteran Hywel David Evans. Omodei was further boosted when population decline required the electorate to take on more rural territory, with the gain of Augusta and its surrounds in 1996 prompting the name change. The effective merger of Warren-Blackwood with Stirling in 2008 appeared to set Omodei, who led the Liberals from March 2006 to January 2008, on a collision course with the Nationals member for Stirling, Terry Redman. Omodei sought to avoid this by nominating for an upper house berth in South West shortly after his loss of the leadership to Troy Buswell precluded the need for him to remain in the lower house. After failing in this end, Omodei declared Buswell “unfit to lead” and threatened to quit the party, coming good on the threat a month later.
Terry Redman came to parliament as member for Stirling in 2005, when he retained the seat upon the retirement of Monty House in unconvincing style, polling only 21.7% of the primary vote against 26.4% for the Liberals and 15.1% for independent and thwarted Nationals preselection hopeful Vicki Brown. Distribution of preferences nonetheless gave Redman a 7.0% win over the Liberals. He had a more comfortable time of it in 2008, outpolling the Liberal candidate 44.9% to 25.4% and increasing the Nationals-versus-Liberal margin to 17.3%. Redman has served as a minister in the agriculture and forestry portfolios since the election of the Barnett government, further gaining corrective services in December 2010 before exchanging it for housing in June 2012.
The Liberal candidate for the coming election is Ray Colyer, the shire president of Augusta-Margaret River.
There have been suggestions that the Terry Redman faces a threat from a Labor decision to direct preferences to the Liberals and a campaign against his decision as Agriculture Minister to allow crop trials for genetically modified canola. An unhelpful development for Redman on this score has been a redistribution adding Margaret River to the electorate, where the vote in 2008 divided roughly evenly between Liberal, Labor and the Greens. Mark McGowan says Labor will do “anything we can do to stop the rollout”, although this turned out not to mean reinstating the ban.