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WA By-Elections

Sep 25, 2009


Tuesday, November 24

Comments thread troublemaker Frank Calabrese has caught the attention of The West Australian’s Inside Cover.

Saturday, November 14

The Fremantle Herald reports Gerry Georgatos is forming a new party he proposes to call the “Real Greens”. Such a name would certainly not be permissible under the Commonwealth Electoral Act, but the state’s Electoral Act does not contain a provision equivalent to that prohibiting a name which “a reasonable person would think suggests that a connection or relationship exists between the party and a registered party if that connection or relationship does not in fact exist” (which was designed to disqualify Liberals for Forests and others like it). Georgatos also disputes Lynn MacLaren’s denial last week that she had been behind the preselection of Hsien Harper, saying she had previously admitted this to him.

UPDATE: I’ve been provided with a more in-depth version of the same article, presumably from the Melville or Cockburn version of the Herald.

Sunday, November 8

The Sunday Times reports Georgatos will be directing preferences to Labor:

Labor candidate Peter Tinley’s chances of winning the Willagee state by-election have been boosted, with independent Gerry Georgatos giving preferences to Labor at the November 28 poll. Mr Georgatos, who unsuccessfully sought pre-selection for Willagee for the Greens, said apart from himself, he believed Mr Tinley was the best candidate. He said Greens candidate Hsien Harper was a “good person”, but he believed Mr Tinley was a better candidate. Mr Georgatos denied giving Labor his preferences as payback for not being pre-selected.

Friday, November 6

fremherald051109maclarenThis week’s Fremantle Herald features a letter from Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren (right) in which she rejects claims the branch meeting that preselected Hsien Harper was stacked, saying the party’s “consensus decision-making” means “branch stacking isn’t possible”. One who begs to differ is Steve Walker, who has told the paper he quit because of “the appalling dishonesty and branch-stacking within the party”. Notwithstanding that he is no longer involved with the party, Walker claims the Willagee preselection was “all the handiwork of Lynn”, whom he labels “the Brian Burke of the Greens”. The paper also corrects its assertion last week that Walker’s gripe had been that he was overlooked for preselection in Fremantle at the expense of Adele Carles – his aspirations had in fact been for the South Metropolitan seat currently occupied by MacLaren. Walker then proceeded to run as an independent, and lodged an above-the-line preference ticket which was punitive with respect to MacLaren personally: while her Greens running mate Scott Ryan was put second, MacLaren was placed behind all major party candidates (since MacLaren was elected anyway, the real impact of his votes was to help elect the Liberals’ Phil Edman ahead of Labor’s Fiona Henderson).

The Herald page linked to above also profiles Christian Democratic Party candidate Henri Chew, and informs us a candidates’ forum will be held at 7:30pm on Wednesday, November 25 (three days before the by-election) at Melville Senior High School’s performing arts hall. There are ads in the paper for Hsien Harper on page one and Peter Tinley on page three, scans of which appear below.



Friday, October 30

fremherald301009The hugely eventful comments thread for this post has made headlines, providing source material for the front page lead story in this weekend’s Fremantle Herald (the Georgatos letter referred to at the end of the scanned article is an edited version of this comment). At issue is the manner in which Hsien Harper was installed as Greens candidate at the expense of Gerry Georgatos, who was preselected earlier in the year when it was felt Alan Carpenter might join Jim McGinty in allowing for a by-election on the same day as the daylight saving referendum in May. Georgatos indicated he was in favour of nominations being reopened when Carpenter did eventually pull the plug, but “party insiders” cited by the Herald say he was “pushed into the decision”. Hsien Harper’s backers got the better of the ensuing preselection meeting, prompting opponents to complain it had been stacked. Georgatos subsequently nominated as an independent, and was promptly forced out of the party.

The sidelining of Georgatos is believed to have occurred largely at the instigation of Lynn MacLaren, member for the corresponding upper house region of South Metropolitan. As the Herald puts it: “About 20 unhappy supporters have since been venting spleens on the Poll Bludger website, with one saying ‘okay, like the others I am a Green – [Lynn] MacLaren and [a] few others knifed him’.” It has been said that Georgatos was felt not to have paid his (metaphorical) party dues; that the campaign might suffer from what one aggrieved comments thread contributor describes as his “outspoken qualities”; and that a candidate with Harper’s union background would in any case be a better bet in a traditional Labor electorate like Willagee.

fremherald301009tinleyadThe dispute also appears to have opened old wounds relating to Adele Carles’s recruitment as candidate for Fremantle at the 2008 election, with some in the party said to have unhappy memories of her as an independent rival to erstwhile upper house MP Jim Scott when he ran in Fremantle in 2005. The nomination of Carles came at the expense of Steve Walker (UPDATE: Or so the Herald reported, but it appears not – see below), described by the Herald as a “founding member” and “loyal warrior for the Greens in various campaigns”. Here too tactical motivations were thought to have been in play, with Carles’s professional background, conservative presentation and young family greatly assisting the party when it sought to win over the Liberal voters who ultimately decided the by-election in her favour (UPDATE 2: The Fremantle Herald confirms it erred in linking Walker to the Fremantle preselection in the next week’s edition – see the entry above).

The ABC’s Peter Kennedy writes about the by-election here, and discusses it here. I’ve also scanned in a full-page Labor ad from the Fremantle Herald – click on the thumbnail to the left for a full view.

UPDATE: Minutes later, Greens convenor Scott Ryan responds:

There are substantial errors of fact in the Herald article that are repeated on your site. Steve Walker did not attempt to pre-select for the State seat of Fremantle in 2008. Adele Carles was preselected unopposed. Steve had already left the party after unsuccessfully nominating for South Metropolitan, choosing to contest that as an independent. Any suggestion that Walker was dumped for Carles is entirely fictitious.

I am not aware of any discomfort over Adele running as an independent in the same election as Jim Scott. She ran on coastal issues and to the best of my memory swapped preferences 2-2. If there are some members who have “unhappy memories” of this, I can of course not rule it out – though it’s nothing I’ve ever heard expressed in years of service to the Fremantle Greens.

As for the remainder of the story, The Greens have not attempted to officially respond to the comments on the site and will not be drawn into debate on that level. Allegations contained within are simply preposterous and delusional.

I have personally maintained communication with Gerry and he maintains that the process was fair and appropriate, and that he was not pushed into re-opening nominations.

I realise that what is said can never be unsaid and perhaps the original posters simply had no idea how damaging their comments would be to Gerry’s campaign and to ours. I am disappointed that the Herald has resorted to cut-and-paste journalism without the fact-checking step in between.

Thursday, October 22

Nominations have closed and the ballot paper order has been drawn, with a modest field of four candidates. Intriguingly, one of the four is Gerry Georgatos, who earlier gave every indication of being relaxed about the re-opening of Greens nominations which ultimately saw him make way for Hsien Harper. The ballot paper order runs Henri Chew (Christian Democratic Party); Peter Tinley (Labor); Hsien Harper (Greens); Gerry Georgatos (Independent).

Wednesday, October 21

The Greens have preselected Hsien Harper, an organiser for the Community and Public Sector Union who ran in Willagee at the 2005 election. Harper was also the party’s candidate for Maylands at last year’s state election, and at the Murdoch by-election earlier in the year.

Sunday, October 18

The Liberals confirmed on Friday they would not be fielding a candidate. The Greens have issued a statement to clarify their reopening of preselection:

The Fremantle-Tangney regional group of The Greens met on Tuesday the 6th of October to discuss opening of nominations for Willagee, selecting a 2-week process for nomination and selection. This process will conclude at a meeting on Tuesday the 20th of October with the selection and announcement of a candidate. Prior to the Fremantle by-election, the Greens chose to not only pre-select a candidate for Fremantle but also for Willagee, expecting a small chance that Alan Carpenter may resign at the same time as Jim McGinty. As this did not occur we elected not to announce the candidate publicly, thinking that it may be seen as an arrogant, provocative or disrespectful move. The candidate selected at the time was Gerry Georgatos. Seven months have passed since the original process, and while there is no question of validity in the previous process, the political landscape has changed somewhat after the victory in Fremantle. Many new members joined in the surge of enthusiasm and the overall chemistry of the party feels a little different. With these issues in mind a proposal was put to the Fremantle-Tangney group to consider re-opening nominations. Gerry himself was joint author of this proposal, stating to the Fremantle Herald (Oct 3) “I feel that I should not hold [the branch] to a decision made seven months ago and would rather ask the members if they want more input. The Greens and I do business differently to the [other] political brands – it’s got to be participatory democracy or there isn’t democracy”. Gerry intends to nominate again as part of the new process.

Tuesday, October 13

Chalpat Sonti of WAtoday reports November 28 has been set by Speaker Grant Woodhams as the date for the by-election (hat tip: Frank Calabrese).

Monday, October 12

The ABC TV news reports, from sources unnamed, that the by-election is believed likely to be held on November 28.

Saturday, October 10

The Fremantle Herald reports Greens state convenor Scott Ryan saying the party will “open up the preselection process again”, despite having preselected “university guild manager Gerry Georgatos” in February when it was thought Carpenter might head for the exit to allow for a by-election on the same day as the daylight saving referendum.

Wednesday, October 7

LATE: Paul Lampathakis of the Sunday Times reports Peter Tinley has been unanimously preselected by Labor’s 16-member administration committee.

EARLY: The ABC reports there are five candidates for Labor preselection: the aforementioned Tinley and Hume, “Labor branch officials” Tony Toledo and Greg Wilton, and Stephen Dawson, former chief-of-staff to Carpenter government Environment Minister David Templeman. Rewi Lyall in comments hears the latter has been endorsed by the party’s Left caucus. Contra the Fremantle Herald, David McEwan is not on the list.

Friday, October 2

The Fremantle Herald reports two further candidates for Labor preselection: Dave Hume, who made a quixotic run against Peter Tagliaferri for the Fremantle preselection and is currently a candidate for Hilton ward in the Fremantle council elections, and David McEwan, an “environmental lawyer involved in the campaign to stop the extension of Roe Highway through the Beeliar wetlands”.

Monday, September 28

Robert Taylor of The West Australian reports Dave Kelly has confirmed he will not be a candidate for preselection. That gives pole position to Peter Tinley, who it so happens lives in Beaconsfield – not in the electorate, but very close to it. Taylor further reports the Greens candidate is expected to be “lawyer and environmental campaigner Graeme McEwan”. CORRECTION: Had the wrong end of the handle here. McEwan is not a Green; Taylor does not say exactly what he is, but I’m presuming he’s a Liberal (although I would have thought it unlikely they would field a candidate).

Sunday, September 27

A report by Paul Lampathakis of the Sunday Times suggests I may have spoken too soon in anointing Dave Kelly as the likely Labor candidate: Peter Tinley, the former SAS officer and Iraq war veteran who unsuccessfully contested Stirling at the 2007 federal election, has confirmed he will nominate, and is the only potential candidate listed in the article. Labor state secretary Simon Mead is quoted saying the preselection will be conducted “within ten days”. The Lampathakis article quotes unnamed Labor figures lambasting Carpenter for not timing his departure to allow for the poll to be held concurrently with the Fremantle by-election and daylight saving referendum on May 16; relatedly, Rebecca Carmody writes in the Sunday Times that Alannah MacTiernan should “do the right thing” and go now so that the Willagee by-election can coincide with one for Armadale.

Friday, September 25

Former WA Premier Alan Carpenter has just announced on the ABC’s Stateline program that he will resign from parliament next Friday. This will initiate a by-election in his safe Labor seat of Willagee, located just down the road from the Poll Bludger’s humble abode in Fremantle. Likely Labor candidate: Dave Kelly, state secretary of the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union.

For non-local observers excited by the prospect of a by-election in the seat neighbouring Fremantle, I have assembled a few stats for cold shower purposes. Unfortunately, the census figures are based on boundaries from before the one-vote one-value redistribution – Fremantle’s would still be pretty accurate, but Willagee would have gotten a bit wealthier. “MFY” stands for median family income.

ALP 2008 51.7% 38.7%
LIB 2008 30.9% 30.2%
GRN 2008 17.4% 27.6%
ALP 2005 47.9% 43.8%
LIB 2005 25.1% 26.8%
GRN 2005 9.0% 17.1%
Professionals 17.7% 29.2%
MFY $1,137 $1,313
Mortgages 35.0% 26.9%
Family households 65.5% 56.9%
Public housing 33.6% 19.6%


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