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WA election: upper house preference tickets and related matters

The WA election just got confusing-er with the release of upper house preference tickets and Labor's direction of preferences in several key regional seats to the Liberals ahead of the Nationals.

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UPDATE: The Greens have uploaded how-to-vote cards to their site, and there are two seats where they have Liberal ahead of Labor: North West Central and Warren-Blackwood. I’m not aware of any occasion of them doing this since the Queensland state election in 1995. They also have Liberal ahead of the Nationals everywhere except Albany, Collie-Preston, Mandurah, Murray-Wellington and Vasse, none of which are rated as particularly big chances for the Nationals.

UPDATE 2: How-to-vote cards are up on the Liberal site, and they have Labor ahead of the Greens in every seat except the only one where their preferences are likely to matter – Fremantle, where their order runs Greens, Carles, Labor. That increases the Greens’ chances of getting ahead of Labor in the event they finish ahead of the Liberals, which they could perhaps do if they receive a tight flow of preferences from Carles (though I wouldn’t bet on it).

Upper house preference tickets were lodged today, and can be viewed in full detail here, and in summary at the bottom of this post. The other preference news is Labor’s announcement on Sunday that it will direct preferences to the Liberals ahead of the Nationals in Warren-Blackwood, Central Wheatbelt, Eyre, North West Central, Geraldton and Kimberley. Labor voters’ compliance with how-to-vote cards ranges from the mid-twenties to the high-forties depending on how many people they have staffing polling booths, which in many of the relevant seats wouldn’t be much. Analysis of the situation in these seats in turn:

Warren-Blackwood. The Liberals apparently have a sniff here of unseating Nationals member Terry Redman, who has made some locals unhappy over his support for genetically modified crop trials. Labor’s redistribution-adjusted vote here is 18.3%, so that might mean about 5% of the vote flipping from Nationals to Liberal. Redman won by a handsome 17.3% margin over the Liberals in 2008, but the redistribution has seen the electorate lose rural areas in exchange for what for the Nationals is the alien territory of Margaret River.

Central Wheatbelt. This seat is being vacated by Brendon Grylls’ pitch at Pilbara and contested for the Nationals by Agricultural region MLC Mia Davies. Labor’s vote is 16.0% so it’s a roughly similar story to Warren-Blackwood, although their how-to-vote penetration here would be particularly poor.

Eyre. The Nationals fell 3.4% short of unseating Liberal member Graham Jacobs here in 2008 with help from Labor preferences. With a Labor vote of 19.3%, it’s looking quite a bit harder for them to go one better this time.

North West Central. It would be sweet revenge for Labor if their preferences cost Vince Catania his bid for re-election as a National after he defected from Labor, but in order for it to happen Labor will have to finish third in a seat which they won at the last election. The redistribution made the seat considerably stronger for the Nationals, producing post-redistribution primary votes of 32.7% for Labor, 29.3% for the Liberals and 22.8% for the Nationals. Catania is relying on a surge of Nationals support in any case, as is Brendon Grylls in neighbouring Pilbara, but if it comes too much at the expense of Labor he could then be fighting on a new front against the Liberals. Most of the voters in the electorate live in large-ish towns, so how-to-vote card penetration should be a lot better than in the aforementioned electorates, particularly if Labor is feeling motivated to punish Catania.

Geraldton. On paper you would think that the primary votes of 36.9% Liberal, 29.1% Labor and 19.3% Nationals have Liberal too high to be threatened and Labor too high to be overtaken by the Nationals. However, Labor pulling the plug on government funding for the nearby Oakajee project to help fund Metronet could cause them to take a hit, finish third and just conceivably put a surging Nationals over the line.

Kimberley. There’s a fair bit of chatter around that the Liberals are failing to gain traction here, so Labor finishing third seems an unlikely prospect. Nonetheless, this is an electorate where nothing can be taken for granted. The primary votes are 41.2% for Labor, 26.0% for Liberal and 18.3% for the Nationals.

Scattered thoughts on the upper house tickets:

• An already complex contest in Agricultural region has been made all the more headache-inducing by the preference tickets. The result here in 2008 was three Nationals, two Liberal and one Labor, but two of the elected Nationals are now running on a formidable looking independent ticket that would have to be odds on to get one member up and could conceivably win two. The field has also been flooded by a suspiciously large number of other independents, many with unorthodox preference allocations. The major players have also done unusual things with preferences, often treating candidates from the same parties very differently.

• The Liberals have put Labor last behind the Greens in every region except Mining & Pastoral. The Mining & Pastoral decision will only matter if Greens member Robin Chapple is grappling with Labor for the final spot, which will probably only happen if the ongoing Nationals tide causes a solid drop in the Labor vote. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to observe that the Victorian election tactic of putting the Greens last is not being followed.

• The Greens are however being put last by the Nationals and reams of minor right-wing candidates, with a few curious exceptions. The Shooters and Fishers Party has the Greens ahead of both the important major party candidates in South Metropolitan and ahead of Labor in North Metropolitan, which in both cases could conceivably mean the difference between defeat and victory for the Greens. The same can be said of Family First’s anomalous decision to favour them over Labor in East Metropolitan. For their part, the Greens have the Shooters and Fishers ahead of Labor’s number two candidate in Mining & Pastoral.

• I see that Keith Wilson, a minister in Labor governments in the Dowding/Lawrence era, who is running in South Metropolitan. He has run in the past as an independent in Fremantle, if my memory serves me correctly.

Now for my regular routine of boiling the preference tickets down to their essence. Preference tickets get less confusing when you remember that the only candidates who matter are those whose election in doubt. It really doesn’t matter where a candidate gets placed if they are certain to win, as is the case with the lead candidates for the major parties, or certain to not win, as I am deeming to be the case with all independents. Given each region elects six members, this typically means we are interested in the third Labor and Liberal candidates and the first Greens candidate.

However, the Nationals make life a lot more complicated in the non-metropolitan regions. This is especially the case in the confoundingly complex race for Agricultural region, where it is by no means clear whether our interest should be in the second or third Liberal or Nationals candidates, and where said candidates have often been put in very different positions on various players’ ticket orders. A lot of tickets also treat Nationals-turned-independent Max Trenorden differently from his fellow Nationals-turned-independent running mate, Philip Gardiner.

With all that in mind, here are the stripped back preference tickets, with extra simplicity to make life as easy as it can be in Agricultural.

AGRICULTURAL

LABOR: Shooters & Fishers; Trenorden/Gardiner; Greens; Nationals; Liberal.
FAMILY FIRST: Shooters & Fishers; Gardiner; Liberal; Nationals; Trenorden; Labor; Greens.
TRENORDEN: Shooters & Fishers; Liberal; Labor; Nationals; Greens.
ANTHONY FELS: Chown (Lib #2); Sounness (Nat #3); Shooters & Fishers; Trenorden/Gardiner; Labor; Ellis (Lib #3); Brown (Nat #2); Greens.
SHOOTERS & FISHERS: Gardiner; Chown (Lib #2); Nationals; Ellis (Lib #3); Trenorden; Labor; Greens.
AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIANS: Shooters & Fishers; Chown (Lib #2); Trenorden/Gardiner; Nationals; Ellis (Lib #3); Labor; Greens.
PETER SWIFT: Shooters & Fishers; Gardiner; Liberal; Trenorden; Nationals; Labor; Greens.
ANNE-MARIE COPELAND: Greens; Labor; Shooters & Fishers; Gardiner; Trenorden; Nationals; Liberal.
NATIONALS: Shooters & Fishers; Liberal; Trenorden/Gardiner; Labor; Greens.
LIBERAL: Shooters & Fishers; Trenorden; Brown (Nat #2); Gardiner; Sounness (Nat #3); Labor; Greens.
GREENS: Chown (Lib #2); Labor; Trenorden/Gardiner; Ellis (Lib #3); Brown (Nat #2); Sounness (Nat #3).
OSAMA RIFAI: Chown (Lib #2); Shooters & Fishers; Greens; Labor; Trenorden/Gardiner; Ellis (Lib #3); Nationals.
TONY BOZICH: Nationals; Greens; Liberal; Shooters & Fishers; Trenorden/Gardiner; Labor.
GREGORY KENNEY: Sounness (Nat #3); Shooters & Fishers; Trenorden/Gardiner; Labor; Chown (Lib #2); Ellis (Lib #3); Brown (Nat #2); Greens.

EAST METROPOLITAN

LIBERAL: Australian Christians; Family First; Shooters & Fishers; Greens; Labor.
GREENS: Labor; Liberal; Family First; Shooters & Fishers; Australian Christians.
SHOOTERS & FISHERS: Australian Christians; Family First; Liberal; Labor; Greens.
AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIANS: Family First; Shooters & Fishers; Liberal; Labor; Greens.
FAMILY FIRST: Australian Christians; Liberal; Shooters & Fishers; Greens; Labor.
LABOR: Greens; Shooters & Fishers; Australian Christians; Family First; Liberal.
CHUNG TU: Family First; Shooters & Fishers; Australian Christians; Greens; Labor; Liberal.
TOM HOYER: Australian Christians; Greens; Shooters & Fishers; Labor; Family First; Liberal.
JOE NARDIZZI: Australian Christians; Family First; Shooters & Fishers; Liberal; Labor; Greens.

MINING & PASTORAL

FAMILY FIRST: Shooters & Fishers; Australian Christians; Liberal; Murie (ALP #2); Nationals; Hill (ALP #3); Greens.
LIBERAL: Australian Christians; Shooters & Fishers; Family First; Nationals; Labor; Greens.
AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIANS: Shooters & Fishers; Family First; Nationals; Liberal; Labor; Greens.
GREENS: Murie (ALP #2); Shooters & Fishers; Hill (ALP #3); Liberal; Nationals; Family First; Australian Christians.
NATIONALS: Shooters & Fishers; Australian Christians; Family First; Liberal; Labor; Greens.
LABOR: Greens; Shooters & Fishers; Family First; Australian Christians; Liberal; Nationals.
SHOOTERS & FISHERS: Australian Christians; Family First; Liberal; Nationals; Labor; Greens.
FRANK BERTOLA: Australian Christians; Shooters & Fishers; Family First; Liberal; Labor; Greens; Nationals.

NORTH METROPOLITAN

LABOR: Greens; Shooters & Fishers; Australian Christians; Family First; Liberal.
LIBERAL: Australian Christians; Family First; Shooters & Fishers; Greens; Labor.
FAMILY FIRST: Australian Christians; Shooters & Fishers; Liberal; Labor; Greens.
GREENS: Labor; Liberal; Family First; Shooters & Fishers; Australian Christians.
SHOOTERS & FISHERS: Australian Christians; Family First; Liberal; Greens; Labor.
AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIANS: Family First; Shooters & Fishers; Liberal; Labor; Greens.
NOEL AVERY: Australian Christians; Shooters & Fishers; Greens; Family First; Liberal; Labor.
ANGELA W. SMITH: Greens; Liberal; Labor; Shooters & Fishers; Australian Christians; Family First.
DOUGLAS THORP: Australian Christians; Greens; Shooters & Fishers; Labor; Liberal; Family First.
MICHAEL TUCAK: Australian Christians; Greens; Liberal; Labor; Shooters & Fishers; Family First.

SOUTH METROPOLITAN

FAMILY FIRST: Australian Christians; Liberal; Shooters & Fishers; Labor; Greens.
SHOOTERS & FISHERS: Australian Christians; Family First; Greens; Liberal; Labor.
LABOR: Greens; Shooters & Fishers; Family First; Australian Christians; Liberal.
AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIANS: Family First; Shooters & Fishers; Liberal; Labor; Greens.
GREENS: Labor; Liberal; Family First; Australian Christians; Shooters & Fishers.
LIBERAL: Australian Christians; Family First; Shooters & Fishers; Greens; Labor.
JOHN TUCAK: Australian Christians; Family First; Shooters & Fishers; Greens; Liberal; Labor.
KEITH WILSON: Greens; Australian Christians; Family First; Shooters & Fishers; Labor; Liberal.
JIM GRAYDEN: Shooters & Fishers; Australian Christians; Family First; Greens; Liberal; Labor.

SOUTH WEST

LABOR: Greens; Family First; Shooters & Fishers; Australian Christians; Liberal; Nationals.
NATIONALS: Family First; Australian Christians; Shooters & Fishers; Liberal; Labor; Greens.
SHOOTERS & FISHERS: Family First; Australian Christians; Nationals; Greens; Labor.
NATAPORN SRI-INNOP ROSS: Greens; Labor; Family First; Australian Christians; Shooters & Fishers; Liberal; Nationals.
LIBERAL: Family First; Australian Christians; Shooters & Fishers; Nationals; Greens; Labor.
FAMILY FIRST: Nationals; Australian Christians; Liberal; Greens; Labor.
GREENS: Labor; Family First; Nationals; Liberal; Australian Christians.
AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIANS: Family First; Shooters & Fishers; Nationals; Liberal; Labor; Greens.
DON HYLAND: Family First; Shooters & Fishers; Australian Christians; Labor; Liberal; Greens; Nationals.

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