Via Pollbludger, reports out of Western Australia suggest that by-elections may be imminent in the seats of two of the former Labor government’s biggest figures: former Premier Alan Carpenter in Willagee and former Attorney-General Jim McGinty in the neighbouring seat of Fremantle. Pollbludger quotes from the Fremantle Herald, saying:
In the face of persistent rumours that veteran state Labor MP Jim McGinty is about to trigger a by-election for Fremantle by announcing his retirement, the Greens have called a war cabinet to talk tactics and anoint a candidate. It is all but certain they will choose South Fremantle’s Adele Carles, who came within a whisker of taking the seat at last year’s state election … Ms Carles says if the powerbroker is considering calling it quits he should do it so the by-election can coincide with the daylight saving referendum in May, saving thousands of dollars … The tom-toms have been beating for weeks that Fremantle mayor Peter Tagliaferri was the shoe-in as Labor’s choice to replace Mr McGinty. But more recently a senior union figure has emerged as a front-runner, which a Labor insider says had Mr Tagliaferri threatening to run as an independent (Word around the campfire is that this refers to Dave Kelly, one of McGinty’s successors at the LHMWU – PB). The Herald’s Labor source said Alan Carpenter also had to be taken into account: If the former premier decides to quit politics the union figure may prefer Mr Carpenter’s safe Willagee seat, which is not threatened by the Greens. This would leave Fremantle open for Mr Tagliaferri. But both Mr McGinty and Mr Tagliaferri are denying a by-election is imminent. “It’s no more than rumour-mongering,” Mr McGinty barked down the phone, adding he stood by the Herald’s report last November that he had no plans to go early but was unlikely to run again in 2013.
Junkies will remember the experience of election night last September as Antony Green’s computer flicked back and forth between a Labor win and a Greens win, due to erratic data entry from the WAEC. Whenever the Greens overtook the Liberals, they were calculated to win the seat. With the Liberals likely to avoid running in a Fremantle by-election, the Greens would be in with a very strong chance to win the seat. Rumours suggest by-elections could be held in parallel with a statewide referendum on daylight savings on May 16.
Updates: Bird of paradox in comments has given some greater information about the layout of Fremantle, and fascinating prospect of a popular centre-left local mayor running as an independent in a seat where Labor, Liberal and Greens all have about 1/3 of support, producing a complete free-for-all. He’s done a notional two-party-preferred vote for each of the 11 booths, coming out with 5 Labor booths, 5 Greens booths and 1 Liberal booth. I’ve turned these into a map of the electorate, although I’ve excluded Rottnest Island (where very few votes are cast, with the Greens coming first with 26 votes).
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