Margin: Labor 15.0%*
Region: South Metropolitan
* By-election 28/11/2009: Labor 10.6% versus Greens
Click here for electoral boundaries map
TERESA VAN LIESHOUT
WAYNE D. SHORTLAND
Electorate analysis: Formerly the seat of Alan Carpenter and now held by Peter Tinley, Willagee covers areas to the east of Fremantle, from the suburb of Willagee itself southwards through Hilton and Coolbellup to Hamilton Hill and the northern part of Spearwood, also extending northwards beyond Leach Highway to take in the bulk of Melville. The redistribution has narrowed its territory north of Leach Highway with transfers of Palymra to Fremantle and Myaree to Bateman (collectively accounting for about 1500 voters), while the Spearwood area (2300 voters) has been gained from Cockburn. The changes have added 0.4% to the Labor margin.
The electorate was created at the 1996 election largely out of abolished Melville, which was divided between Willagee and safe conservative Alfred Cove. Melville had been held by Labor from its creation in 1950 until Doug Shave emerged a surprise Liberal victor in 1989 by 32 votes, before consolidating with a double-digit swing in 1993. Shave then moved on to Alfred Cove, and Willagee was contested for Labor by Alan Carpenter, former presenter of the Perth edition of the ABC’s 7:30 Report. The seat had a notional Labor margin of only 2.3%, but Carpenter secured a 6.5% swing on debut and went untroubled thereafter, being assisted by a favourable redistribution in 2005. He became Premier following Geoff Gallop’s unexpected retirement announcement in January 2006, edging out New Right rival Michelle Roberts after winning the support of both sub-factions of the Left.
Carpenter moved to the back bench after the 2008 election defeat, but lingered for a year as a member of parliament before announcing his resignation in September 2009. Support for the succession quickly consolidated behind Peter Tinley, a former SAS officer and Iraq war veteran who had unsuccessfully contested the federal seat of Stirling in 2007. Tinley enjoyed a comfortable victory at the November 28 by-election in the absence of a Liberal candidate and a disunited campaign from the Greens, slightly increasing the Labor primary vote and winning a 10.6% margin over the Greens after preferences.
Tinley was initially a member of the Right faction, but was among those frozen out at the behest of Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association state secretary Joe Bullock for supporting Ben Wyatt’s abortive leadership challenge in January 2011. When support for Eric Ripper’s leadership fragmented a year later he was rated alongside Mark McGowan as a likely challenger from among the Right exiles, but perhaps wisely ruled himself out on grounds of inexperience. McGowan elevated him to the front bench in the planning, housing and local jobs portfolios, but he stood aside the following November after a company of which his wife was a director was placed in receivership.