Margin: Labor 0.8%*
Region: East Metropolitan
* Liberal seat made notionally Labor by redistribution
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SALLY IRENE PALMER
Electorate analysis: The inner northern seat of Morley provided the ALP with its most disappointing defeat in 2008, when a notional Labor margin of 9.9% was wiped out after the disendorsed former Labor member, the late John D’Orazio, ran as an independent and directed his preferences to the Liberals. Located 10 kilometres north of the city, the electorate was one of the metropolitan seats created by the one-vote one-value redistribution, extending eastwards from Dianella through Noranda to Morley itself. The current redistribution has shifted the electorate westwards, adding the suburb of Nollamara (causing the electorate of that name to be renamed Mirrabooka), while effecting two transfers that have moved parts of the suburb of Morley itself out of the electorate bearing its name: one to Mount Lawley in the south, which also transfers a part of Dianella, and another to Bassendean in the east, also affecting part of Beechboro. The changes have returned the seat to the Labor column, turning a Liberal margin of 0.9% into a notional Labor margin of 0.8%.
Morley previously existed as an electorate from 1974 to 1983 and again from 1989 to 1996, being replaced by Morley-Swan in the interim. Arthur Tonkin held the seats from 1974 until his mid-term retirement in 1987 initiated a by-election at which Labor’s Frank Donovan defeated current Liberal front-bencher Kim Hames. Donovan quit the ALP in October 1991 to sit out the rest of his term as an independent, and was succeeded in 1993 by Clive Brown. The redistribution before the 1997 election saw Morley replaced by the notional Liberal seat of Ballajura, prompting Brown to jump for the safe option of Bassendean. The first two elections for Ballajura were contested for the Liberals by Rhonda Parker, previously the member for abolished Helena, and for Labor by John D’Orazio, Bayswater mayor and Italian community leader, with Parker prevailing by 44 votes on the first occasion and D’Orazio winning by a 4.9% margin on the second.
D’Orazio was elevated to cabinet after the 2005 election and subsequently became embroiled in a series of political difficulties that led firstly to his resignation as a minister and secondly to his expulsion from the ALP, as part of an aggressive response by Premier Alan Carpenter to cumulative embarrassments emerging from Corruption and Crime Commission hearings. D’Orazio spent the next two years fighting to be readmitted to the ALP, eventually succeeding in April 2008. However, his renewed association with the party proved to be short-lived, as he was not granted the waiver required for preselection contestants who had not been members of the party for at least 12 months. Carpenter was in any case determined that the seat should go to Reece Whitby, state political reporter for Channel Seven, prompting to D’Orazio to run as an independent.
The damage for Labor came with D’Orazio’s decision at the very close of the campaign to direct his preferences to the Liberals. Nearly two-thirds of D’Orazio’s 16.0% share of the vote flowed to the Liberals as preferences, which was unquestionably the decisive factor in their 0.9% winning margin. The Liberals’ unlikely winner was Ian Britza, a former church pastor. Britza will again be opposed at the coming election by Whitby, who has put considerable ground work into the seat since his surprise defeat to deflect the complaint widely heard before the last election that he had been parachuted in. There were suggestions Whitby might face preselection opposition from Nollamara MP Janine Freeman as part of a bid by the Missos Left to secure an extra seat, but this did not come to fruition and Freeman will contest Nollamara’s successor seat of Mirrabooka.