The Labor leadership change has prompted The West Australian to commission its first Westpoll survey of state voting intention in nearly two years, and the results are all but identical to those of the Newspoll that precipitated Eric Ripper’s demise: the Labor primary vote at 29 per cent, the Liberals at 52 per cent and the Nationals at 2 per cent, the Greens on 11 per cent, and the Liberal-Nationals two-party lead at 59-41. However, Mark McGowan has done much better on debut as preferred Premier than Eric Ripper, trailing Colin Barnett 48-33 compared to Ripper’s 59-18 in the aforementioned Newspoll. The poll also finds 20 per cent “more likely to vote Labor” after the leadership change compared with 8 per cent less likely. However, the poll (conducted by Patterson Market Research) has the usual small Westpoll sample of 400, with a margin of error approaching 5 per cent.

The West’s Gareth Parker also reports that Channel Seven journalist Reece Whitby, who unsuccessfully ran in Morley at the 2008 election after being recruited by Alan Carpenter, now hopes to run in Belmont, which Ripper will vacate at the next election. The report says Whitby has “quietly spent the past three years attempting to bolster hims support base” in Morley, to the extent that he is now president of the party’s branch there, but he threatens to be squeezed out by Nollamara MP Janine Freeman’s determination to recover the seat for Labor. Meanwhile, the Fremantle Herald reports ABC TV gardening program presenter Josh Byrne has ruled himself out of contention for Labor preselection in Fremantle. The Herald reports the preselection now looms as a three-horse race between Fremantle councillors Josh Wilson and Dave Hume, and Maritime Union of Australia deputy secretary Adrian Evans (hat tip to Frank Calabrese).

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