Canning by-election, 2015

September 19, 2015

Cause of by-election
Sitting Liberal MP Don Randall died on 21 July 2015. Randall had held Canning since 2001, and previously held Swan from 1996 to 1998.

MarginLIB 61.8%

Geography
South of Perth. Canning covers urban fringe and rural areas to the south of Perth, including most of the Peel region. Canning covers the City of Armadale on the edge of Perth as well as the local government areas of Boddington, Murray, Serpentine-Jarrahdale and Waroona in the Peel region. Canning also covers most of the coastal City of Mandurah.

History
Canning was first created for the expansion of the House of Representatives in 1949. For the early part of its history it was contested between the Liberal Party and the Country Party, and since the 1980s the seat has become much more of a Labor-Liberal marginal seat, usually being held by the party winning government.

The seat was first won in 1949 by Leonard Hamilton of the Country Party, who had previously held Swan since 1946.

Hamilton retired in 1961 and the seat was won by Liberal Neil McNeill, who was defeated by the Country Party’s John Hallett in 1963. Hallett held the seat until 1974, when the Liberal Party’s Mel Bungey defeated him.

The ALP’s Wendy Fatin won the seat in 1983 at the same time as the election of the Hawke government. Fatin transferred to the new seat of Brand in 1984, and the ALP’s George Gear transferred into Canning from Tangney, which he had held after the 1983 election.

Gear was defeated in 1996 by Ricky Johnston (LIB), who had previously ran against Gear at every election since 1984. Johnston was defeated herself by Jane Gerick (ALP) in 1998.

Gerick was defeated narrowly by Don Randall (LIB) in 2001.

Randall held Canning for over a decade, winning re-election in 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013. His narrow margin in 2001 blew out to 59.5% in 2004, shrinking to 52.2% in 2010 before growing out to 61.8% in 2013.

Candidates

  • Vimal Kumar Sharma (Palmer United)
  • Connor Whittle (Liberal Democrats)
  • Michelle Allen (Pirate Party)
  • Greg Smith (Australian Defence Veterans Party)
  • Katrina Love (Animal Justice)
  • Andrew Hastie (Liberal)
  • Teresa Van Lieshout (Independent)
  • Matt Keogh (Labor)
  • Vanessa Rauland (Greens)
  • Jim McCourt (Family First)
  • Jamie Van Burgel (Australian Christians)
  • Angela Smith (Sustainable Population Party)

Assessment
Canning has a tradition of being quite a marginal seat, and was fiercely contested as recently as 2010.

Don Randall significantly strengthened his position in 2013, in a year where the Liberal Party did particularly well in Western Australia.

It is unclear how much of the Liberal vote in the seat is due to Randall’s personal vote, and the competitiveness of the by-election could depend on who is preselected for the major parties.

2013 result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Don RandallLiberal45,18951.07+4.89
Joanne DeanLabor23,57826.64-13.71
Damon Pages-OliverGreens6,5477.40-0.89
Wendy LamottePalmer United6,0886.88+6.88
Derek BruningChristians2,7423.10+3.10
James ForsythNationals1,7071.93+1.93
Alice HarperFamily First1,1971.35-0.19
Richard EldridgeKatter’s Australian7760.88+0.88
Lee RumbleRise Up6690.76+0.76

2013 two-candidate-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Don RandallLiberal54,70061.81+9.62
Joanne DeanLabor33,79338.19-9.62
Polling places in Canning at the 2013 federal election. Armadale in orange, Mandurah in red, Murray in blue, Serpentine-Jarrahdale in green, South in yellow. Click to enlarge.
Polling places in Canning at the 2013 federal election. Armadale in orange, Mandurah in red, Murray in blue, Serpentine-Jarrahdale in green, South in yellow. Click to enlarge.

Booth breakdown
Booths have been divided into five areas, based on local government areas. A large majority of voters live in either the City of Mandurah at the eastern end of the electorate, or the City of Armadale, in the Perth outskirts at the northern end of the seat. Polling places in Serpentine-Jarrahdale and Murray council areas have also been grouped along council boundaries. A small number of booths in Boddington and Waroona council areas have been grouped as ‘South’.

The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all five areas, ranging from 58.4% in Armadale and 61.7% in Mandurah to 66.4% in Serpentine-Jarrahdale and 68.1% in the south.

Voter groupPUP %GRN %LIB 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Armadale8.218.5358.3528,67130.61
Mandurah6.497.3261.6519,01120.30
Serpentine-Jarrahdale8.877.6366.378,5479.12
Murray7.945.5465.226,5547.00
South5.525.3668.142,6522.83
Other votes5.106.8662.6828,23130.14
Two-party-preferred votes in Canning at the 2013 Australian federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Canning at the 2013 Australian federal election.
Greens primary votes in Canning at the 2013 Australian federal election.
Greens primary votes in Canning at the 2013 Australian federal election.
Palmer United primary votes in Canning at the 2013 Australian federal election.
Palmer United primary votes in Canning at the 2013 Australian federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Armadale at the 2013 Australian federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Armadale at the 2013 Australian federal election.
Greens primary votes in Armadale at the 2013 Australian federal election.
Greens primary votes in Armadale at the 2013 Australian federal election.
Palmer United primary votes in Armadale at the 2013 Australian federal election.
Palmer United primary votes in Armadale at the 2013 Australian federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Mandurah at the 2013 Australian federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Mandurah at the 2013 Australian federal election.
Greens primary votes in Mandurah at the 2013 Australian federal election.
Greens primary votes in Mandurah at the 2013 Australian federal election.
Palmer United primary votes in Mandurah at the 2013 Australian federal election.
Palmer United primary votes in Mandurah at the 2013 Australian federal election.

26 COMMENTS

  1. It seems like Randall had a strong personal vote around the Armadale area, considering Labor hold the corresponding state seat by nearly 10 percent. Also wonder where the high PUP vote will end up going, people have stopped caring about Clive’s vanity project

  2. An interesting, perhaps “barometer” by-election that might (perhaps) send a strong signal to the Abbott government about how lackluster their performance has been over the last two years. As was commented on “Insiders” yesterday: (paraphrased) “It is interesting how Randall was one of the backbenchers pushing for Abbott’s “near-death experience” earlier in the year. He was probably reflecting a viewpoint he was hearing in his electorate at the time.” No wonder the current government is holding off having a general election as long as possible.

  3. Labor had a big go at trying to pull off a surprise win in 2010 with Alannah McTiernan as their candidate, now MP for Perth. Some of that drop in the Labor vote in 2013 presumably reflects the absence of the previous high profile candidate, but those results might also support the idea that Randall may have also had a significant personal vote???

  4. “No wonder the current government is holding off having a general election as long as possible.”

    What? The government isn’t even two years in and have a solid majority. Why would they go more than 12 months early?

  5. On Canning itself….I’ve said this elsewhere, but I have long believed that by-elections should only be held if the reason for the vacancy is remotely the MPs own fault. E.g. if they are forced to resign in disgrace, or storm off in a huff after falling out with their party, or just can’t be bothered hanging around for a full term.

    A vacancy due to death or serious unavoidable health/personal problems should be uncontested. That’s nobody’s “fault”, and it’s a bit unfair on the defending party to wear the expense of the by-election and possible loss of a seat due to unforseen tragedy. There should be some sort of informal agreement between all the major parties that they won’t contest by-elections in those circumstances.

  6. Disagree with Mark – his suggestion implies handing over the choice of representation to the parties – its not theirs to dispose of. It should go back to the electors

  7. Interested in your comment Mark that the defending party will wear the expense of the by-election. Why will it cost the Liberal party?

  8. Well, it could cost the Liberal Party a seat in which at a federal election may not be lost.With a by-election it shines a light on the seat that is never really known as determining and election, and it is really up in the air as to who wins. This battle is genuinely a flip off a coin and if the Liberals do win it will be held by less than a margin of 2%

  9. I think that the big parties will be able to profit from this by-election. They will attract adequate donations to cover their respective campaigns & then happily pocket the election funding provided from the public purse.

  10. Randall’s results when defending the seat compare much better to the national 2PP for that election than those of any incumbent in Canning since 1977. Here’s the sequence of (Canning Liberal 2PP – national Coalition 2PP) from 1975 on:

    12.5,11.7,1.4,-4.2(ALP wins seat), -2, -3, -1.9, 1.2, -2.9 (Liberal wins seat), -2.5 (ALP wins seat), -0.6 (Randall wins seat), 6.8 (first Randall defence), 8.3, 2.3 (MacTiernan run), 8.3.

    Redistributions along the way have never been worth more than about 3 points and have generally cancelled each other out in the long term.

  11. The latest rumours are the Liberals asked Dons daughter Tess Randall to nominate for preselection. If that does end up happening, that may be an advantage to them

  12. Kevin: it makes more sense to start counting from 1980, as before then Canning was a rural seat. It moved into the Perth suburbs when O’Connor was created. (That’s why those first two numbers are so large.)

    It’s also worth comparing to election results in WA, not federally, as WA often doesn’t follow the national result all that closely. (Example: your lowest number is from 1983, when the Libs lost the state election, then five of their eight federal seats a month later – it doesn’t say much about Mel Bungey’s personal vote.) Do that, and you get the following (counting from 1980):

    -1.5, -2.4, -2.9, -2.9, -4.7, -4.2, -5.3, -4.1, -1.2, 4.1, 2.3, -4.2, 3.5.

    That series goes down and then up again between 1980 and 2001, but a lot of that’s caused by redistributions (which, like you, I haven’t bothered fiddling around with) – it’d be a lot flatter otherwise. Since then, there’s been the only three times Canning has outperformed WA for the Libs, with the outlier of course being MacTiernan in 2010.

    Based on that, you could probably say Randall had a personal vote of several %, so did MacTiernan, and without either of them Canning leans slightly towards Labor compared to WA. Therefore, if the Libs are looking at polling less than 52-53% in WA, they could easily lose Canning. According to Bludgertrack, it’s 50-50. Game on.

  13. Whackjob perennial candidate Teresa von Lieshout has announced her plans to contest the by-election. She will probably struggle to get even 1% of the vote.

  14. a third of the seat is Armadale……….there is a 20% difference in the votes at state and fed levels this suggests a personal vote for Mr Randall in the absence of a excellent Alp candidate
    so really we are back to about a 5% margin…….. now WA at state and fed levels has had a very high vote approx 58% lib 2pp…….. now if there is a swing back to closer to 50/50 that is at most 52/48 either way a big swing is quite possible

  15. 1. Save our steel industry with Government contracts using Australian steel.
    2. Save our banks by Glass-Steagall separation of conventional banking from economically toxic derivatives.
    3. Save us from the two major ‘money is everything’ parties by banning taxpayer money for fund raisers.
    hese plus local issues from independent Teresa van Lieshout

  16. As the candidate for the Australian Defence Veterans Party, I agree with Mark Mulcair’s observation that this by-election should not have been held: there should have been a handover to the Liberals, due to the death of sitting member Don Randall, RIP. However, here we are. Just like to say that I hope our Party is seen as a credible alternative, with strong policies across a wide range of issues (not just relating Defence and emergency service Veterans). It’s all on our web site. Unfortunately, we are campaigning with just two people (myself and the national treasurer, who both happen to actually live in the electorate, hence my slogan: “true local: keeping it real”.

  17. Don’t see the argument for a handover to a Liberal candidate uncontested. who represents a seat is a matter for the electors of that seat not the party apparatus whether Liberal or ALP. they have no divine right to pass on seats. It’s not their seat to give away. Sorry that is nineteenth century thinking that saw seats at the disposal of aristocratic oligarchies.

  18. Australia does not have a party vote system, so it’s absurd and undemocratic to suggest that a seat should be automatically inherited to whoever the party chooses in the event of someone dying.

  19. In some cases a sitting member would have won a seat based on their personal vote but had the party preselected a different candidate, the different candidate would have lost. I don’t see any sense in the deceased MP’s party being given the automatic right to anoint someone the voters wouldn’t have elected in the first place. If the voters all thought the party should have that right they could vote accordingly; evidently, some don’t.

    In PR, like the Senate, as pointed out by Mick, there is a valid reason for automatic handover if each party has a single ticket order. That is that there is no sound way to have a by-election for a minority position. Also Senate votes overwhelmingly are party votes; candidate selection has much less impact there.

    Indeed if incumbents could resign due to health or personal problems and have their seat filled by their own party then this would create a risk of star candidates running who did not intend actually sticking around in parliament even if elected (some excuse could always be found to quit). A genuinely unhealthy veteran MP might well stick around just to win the seat for their party off personal vote effects then quit immediately afterwards.

  20. If we were to just treat lower house votes as a party vote, then why bother having local MPs at all? Just give each party a set number of votes in parliament according to the seats they’ve won, and have the votes cast by the party leader. It’s not how our system works.

  21. The Major Parties would probably like the parliamentary seats to be within their claim until the next election. But fortunately for us this is not the case.

    What is going to be interesting about this by- election is who will get the blame for the decline in the liberal vote.

    Tony Abbott for his actions over last two years
    Malcolm Turnbull for his white anting of a sitting prime minister and actions as PM in 3 days
    Hastie for not having been as good a member as Don Randall was over last 14 years.
    The Liberal Party for not disciplining its recalcitrant members
    or Don Randall for having the temerity to die in office.

    I think we can assume at least a 5% swing against LIBS (anything in excess of this I put down to Turnbull’s Coup.

    One thing for sure is that the Liberal Party will not blame itself for its policies that are destroying the economic scaffolding of our nation.

    A week ago I would have predicted a 5 or 6% win by Libs but now who knows. By Saturday the Libs may even have a new leader.

    Andrew Jackson
    apjackson@hotkey.net.au

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