Federal 2019 – the race in Western Australia


Western Australia has sixteen seats in the House of Representatives, and these seats strongly favour the Liberal Party. Labor holds five seats, while the Liberal Party holds the other eleven.

The Liberal Party has dominated Western Australia at federal elections since Kim Beazley’s departure from federal politics over a decade ago. Polling earlier in the current term suggested a reversion towards Labor, but the latest polling suggests Labor is only on track to gain a small swing.

I have identified six seats worth watching at this election: three marginal Liberal seats, one marginal Labor seat, and two other slightly safer Liberal seats.

The seat of Canning has been held by the Liberal Party’s Andrew Hastie since a 2015 by-election. The electorate covers the outer south of the Perth metropolitan region and is held by a 6.8% margin. The seat is probably out of reach for Labor but has a history of being very marginal. Canning became less marginal when the Armadale area was removed at the redistribution prior to the 2016 election.

Labor’s Anne Aly won Cowan by a slim 0.7% margin at the 2016 election, defeating longstanding local Liberal MP Luke Simpkins. Cowan covers parts of the northern suburbs of Perth. Aly should probably win re-election but it’s a bit close for comfort.

The Liberal Party’s Ken Wyatt holds the eastern suburbs seat of Hasluck by a 2.1% margin. Wyatt has now held the seat for three terms – prior to his election the seat had changed hands at three successive elections. Hasluck will be an important target for Labor if they are aiming for a solid governing majority.

Senior government minister Christian Porter holds the seat of Pearce by a 3.6% margin. The seat covers the outer northern suburbs of Perth and a larger rural fringe. Porter is a prominent government minister and the seat has traditionally been safer for the Liberal Party, which could help Porter but could also suggest that the seat has more capacity to swing.

The seat of Stirling covers parts of the northern suburbs of Perth, and is held by Liberal MP Michael Keenan by a 6.1% margin. The seat has a long history of moving back and forth between Labor and Liberal but Keenan has now held the seat for fifteen years, and it will be a tough ask for Labor to win here in 2019.

The Liberal Party’s Steve Irons holds the inner southern seat of Swan by a 3.6% margin. He has held this seat since 2007, but it is one of the key targets for Labor at this election.

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  1. Keenan isn’t contesting this election, which I think puts Stirling more in contention, despite the margin

  2. It would be interesting to see some more polling that had a state by state breakdown. I think this would give a more accurate, if only a generalised, picture than seat by seat polls which are not so reliable.

    I don’t think Cowan is really in play for the Liberals, however it is possible that Labor picks up no seats in WA. I think the most likely result though is that Labor gains 3 out of the following 4 seats – Pearce, Hasluck, Swan and Stirling.

  3. Cowan – probably a Labor retain as Ann Aly has a following in that marginal seat.

    Stirling – difficult to tell. A Labor victory is possible but history favors the Liberals.

    Hasluck – my electorate, Labor will very likley win this seat.

    Swan – Labor is favor to win but Liberals could win with the seat taking in safe Liberal voting areas.

    Canning – Liberals will likely hold onto if the election is a close one.

    Curtin – Liberals will easily win but Greens could enter TPP and Louise Stewart could take a bite out of Julie Bishop’s personal vote.

    Perth – Labor wins but could win from second place like in 2016.

  4. Swan will be very close. Labor is still slight favorites for me, but the Labor friends I have spoken to feel less and less confident. The only seat Labor will most likely pick up in WA is Hasluck.

  5. The overall position for labor in WA appears to be deteriorating over the election campaign. Canning and Stirling are now too far out of reach I would think. It’s hard to get a good read on Hasluck, Pearce and Swan word of mouth and polling is just saying it will be close. Cowan actually being in play is a surprise, my labor friends were concerned about it even before there was polling. Will be interested in the result of Perth on the night, neither party is campaigning but I still think it might be closeish

  6. To sum up what I’ve seen on the ground in the Perth area:

    Cowan – Both sides campaigning, Isaac Stewart (the Liberal) has been campaigning for quite some time, met him at the train station one morning on my commute to work. Labor representative Anne Aly wasn’t at the station, although Labor volunteers were there too.
    Stirling – Campaign is full-bore to the max, Vince Connelly (Liberal) and Melita Markey(Labor) signs and displays everywhere. Liberals (including meeting Connelly himself) at the train station, no sign of Labor though.
    Hasluck – Drove through here, again, another intense campaign. Ken Wyatt (Liberal) and James Martin (Labor) signs around equal numbers.
    Swan – Ditto Hasluck, more Steve Irons (Liberal) than Hannah Beazley (Labor) signs though.
    Perth – Aside from some token Jim Grayden (Liberal) signs in the north, and Patrick Gorman (Labor incumbent) in the south, you’d think there was no election on!
    Brand – A few token signs for the Liberal candidate.
    Tangney – NOTHING.
    Canning – Only been through bits of here, both Andrew Hastie (Liberal incumbent) and Mellisa Teede (Labor) are hard at it.
    Moore – A few Ian Goodenough (Liberal incumbent) signs, but not too much.

    Haven’t really been through Pearce, Fremantle or Curtin in the campaign period.

  7. Oops – Forgot Burt – Some token signs for Liberal candidate David Goode, but that’s it.

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