Fremantle – Australia 2019

ALP 7.5%

Incumbent MP
Josh Wilson, since 2016.

Geography
South-western Perth. The seat of Fremantle covers the City of Fremantle and the Town of East Fremantle, as well as most of the City of Cockburn and small parts of the City of Melville. Suburbs include Fremantle itself as well as Cockburn, Coolbellup, Palmyra, Success, Atwell, Jandakot, Spearwood, Coogee, Beaconsfield and Hamilton Hill.

History
Fremantle is an original federation electorate. After alternating between parties up to 1934, and since then has always been held by the ALP. From 1934 to 2007 it was held by a series of senior Labor figures.

Fremantle was won in 1901 by Elias Solomon, a Free Trader who had been in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly since 1892.

In 1903, Solomon was defeated by the ALP’s William Carpenter. Carpenter held the seat for one term, before losing in 1906. Carpenter went on to serve in Western Australian state politics.

Carpenter lost in 1906 to William Hedges, elected as the only representative of the Western Australian Party, a party formed from Anti-Socialists and Protectionists, but sat as an independent, before joining the new Commonwealth Liberal Party in 1909. He was re-elected in 1910 but lost in 1913.

He was replaced by the ALP’s Reginald Burchell. He left the ALP over the conscription split and was re-elected as a Nationalist MP, serving as Member for Fremantle until his retirement in 1922.

Fremantle was won in 1922 by independent candidate William Watson. Former Liberal MP Hedges was pushed into third place behind the ALP. Watson held the seat until his retirement in 1928, when the seat was won by the ALP’s John Curtin.

Curtin held the seat for one term, losing in 1931 to Watson, who had returned as the candidate for the United Australia Party. Curtin returned in 1934 after Watson again retired, and the ALP has held the seat ever since.

Curtin was elected leader of the Labor Party in 1935, and became Prime Minister in 1941, leading Australia through the Second World War. Curtin died in July 1945.

The 1945 Fremantle by-election was won by the ALP’s Kim Beazley. Beazley was a prominent figure in the federal ALP through the 1950s and 1960s, and served as Education Minister in the Whitlam government from 1972 to 1975. He retired from Parliament in 1977. His son is Kim Beazley Jr, who served as Leader of the ALP from 1996 to 2001 and from 2005 to 2007.

The younger Beazley contested the ALP preselection for Fremantle in 1977, but lost to John Dawkins, who had previously held the marginal seat of Tangney from 1974 to 1975.

Dawkins joined the Labor frontbench in 1980. He served in the Hawke cabinet from 1983, and was appointed Treasurer in the Keating government in 1991 after Keating replaced Bob Hawke. He served in the role until he resigned in December 1993 after facing opposition within Cabinet to his budget.

The 1994 Fremantle by-election was won by Carmen Lawrence. Lawrence had been a state MP in Western Australia since 1986, and had served as Australia’s first female Premier from 1990 until the ALP lost power in 1993.

Lawrence served as Minister for Health for the last two years of the Keating government. She served as a shadow minister in the Labor opposition from 1996 to 1997 and again from 2000 to 2002, having been forced to step down in 1997 due to allegations of perjury, for which she was later acquitted. She resigned from the frontbench in 2002 in protest at the party’s asylum seeker policy.

Lawrence was elected as the ALP’s first directly-elected National President in 2003, and served in the role in 2004. She retired from Parliament in 2007.

At the 2007 election, Fremantle was won by Labor’s Melissa Parke, a lawyer who worked for the United Nations from 1999 to 2007. Parke was re-elected in 2010 and 2013, and retired in 2016.

Labor’s Josh Wilson won Fremantle in 2016.

Wilson was forced to resign from parliament in early 2018 due to his late citizenship renunciation in 2016, but he was re-elected at the resulting by-election.

Candidates

Assessment
Fremantle should be safely retained by Labor at the general election.

2016 result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Josh Wilson Labor 34,79241.0-0.4
Pierrette Kelly Liberal 31,29236.9-0.6
Kate Davis Greens 15,05317.7+5.9
Mick ConnollyMature Australia2,3352.8+2.8
Chris JenkinsSocialist Alliance1,4041.7+0.8
Informal3,5354.0

2016 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Josh Wilson Labor 48,82157.5+2.1
Pierrette Kelly Liberal 36,05542.5-2.1

2018 by-election result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Josh Wilson Labor 33,27752.6+11.6
Dorinda Cox Greens 10,45616.5-1.2
John GrayLiberal Democrats8,91614.1+14.1
Mark StaerAustralian Christians3,3505.3+5.3
Katrina LoveAnimal Justice3,2975.2+5.2
Jason SpanbroekIndependent3,2395.1+5.1
James H HarfouchePeople’s Party7081.1+1.1
Informal4,9337.2

2018 by-election two-candidate-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%
Josh Wilson Labor 46,33573.3
John GrayLiberal Democrats16,90826.7

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into four areas: central, north, south-east and south-west.

The ALP won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in three out of four areas at the general election, ranging from 56.4% in the south-east to 65.3% in the centre. The Liberal Party polled 51.9% in the north. The Greens primary vote ranged from 10.6% in the south-west to 25.3% in the centre.

Labor won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote (against the Greens) in all four areas at the 2018 by-election, ranging from 58.6% in the north to 70.3% in the south-west.

The LDP came third, with a primary vote ranging from 10.1% in the centre to 16.7% in the north.

2016 booth breakdown

Voter groupGRN prim %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
South-East12.056.423,29727.4
Central25.365.320,17623.8
South-West10.658.810,26012.1
North20.748.16,8368.1
Other votes19.654.213,03315.4
Pre-poll18.754.311,27413.3

2018 by-election booth breakdown

Voter groupLDP prim %ALP 2CP %Total votes% of votes
South-East14.370.218,33029.0
Central10.162.216,53626.1
South-West14.370.38,93214.1
North16.758.65,5328.7
Other votes19.071.26,1129.7
Pre-poll16.270.07,81412.4

Election results in Fremantle at the 2016 federal election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and Greens primary votes.

Two-candidate-preferred votes (Labor vs Greens) in Fremantle at the 2016 federal election

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16 COMMENTS

  1. This was once considered a seat the Greens could potentially win, and they called it one of their “target seats” in the 2016 election.

    The byelection conclusively proved that the Greens have no chance here. In a future where the Greens are on the up and up, they’ll win Perth long before they win Fremantle.

    The state seat Fremantle is a different story.

  2. Losing 2nd to the LDP must be the ultimate embarrassment to the Greens, I can’t say i’m all that surprised, especially in the absence of a Liberal candidate.

    This area of Perth seems to be the LDPs best performing area in the country, they did also win a seat in the Legeslative Council in this region last state election.

  3. Angus did the Liberal Democrats take 2nd? There is a Labor/LDP preference throw on the AEC website but not a full distribution.

    Either way the Greens should be alarmed by their poor results.

  4. It looks like the Greens in Perth do no have the same campaign culture as exists in Melbourne, Sydney, and recently Brisbane. The by-election should have been a ripe opportunity to increase their primary vote.

    They weren’t ever going to win either by-election though, the path to victory in seats like Freo and Perth is for the Greens to exclude Labor in 3rd. That won’t happen without the Liberals running.

    I don’t see how the LDP caught the Greens on preferences in the by-election. I would have assumed Animal Justice voters would have preferenced the Greens quite highly.

  5. Labor is never going to come 3rd in Fremantle. The Greens path to Victory would have been to overtake the Liberals, then make the most of the media narrative about the seat being Labor vs Greens. They had that this time, and they squibbed it. Perth is a more plausible seat as Liberals usually win the primary vote.

    AJP preferences do flow to Greens, but nowhere near as consistently as you’d expect. They still get the assorted minor party protest voters that now exclude Greens.

  6. The LDP beat the greens on preferences because they got preferences from everyone apart from AJP. Especially strong flows from the Christians and the independent.

  7. Josh Wilson impresses the hell out of me. Why hasn’t this man got a shadow ministry? Definitely future leadership material

  8. I wonder why there has been no comment about Richard Di Natale’s leadership.

    The Greens did not win in Batman when they should, the vote went down in Fremantle in % terms as well as not contesting the 2 party preferred.

    Fremantle is a supposed bastion for the Greens.

    Personally I think Josh Wilson will continue to rise and rise and make Fremantle a save seat again in a general election. It would not surprise me if his primary vote was 50%+ in the future.

  9. The Greens should be doing much better in a seat like Fremantle, at least in the booths nearer to Fremantle proper. In recent years it seems they have become increasingly focused on identity politics such as LGBTI which may see them do well in a few inner urban seats in Sydney or Melbourne but to the neglect of a broader social democratic agenda that could attract more votes from the wider community. The experience of Adele Carles as a state Greens member for Fremantle in the WA parliament would not have helped their position here either.

  10. Dorinda Cox the Greens candidate has pulled out (who also ran in the by-election).

    Perhaps if Scott Ludlam were to run that could gee up their campaign.

  11. No, the lead Greens senate candidate is a sitting senator, Jordan Steele-John. Scott Ludlam did not run for that pre-selection.

    Scott Ludlam seemed to imply he’s “taking a break” last year but I don’t think he completely ruled-out or ruled-in someday returning to candidacy/parliament.

    I believe Fremantle is the seat he lives which is why I’m implying he would give it a think.

  12. The Greens missed a huge opportunity in the byelections by not running Ludlam in the seat, and by not putting more than a token effort into either WA seat.

    A well funded campaign, and visits from Greens with associated policy announcements, all with the intent of getting people who usually vote Liberal to preference the Greens over Labor, would have been enough for both seats (especially Perth).

    Instead they seemed to run small campaigns in a limited geographic areas, aimed at getting name recognition and building the vote in the state seats of Maylands, Perth and Fremantle.

    That’s not a bad way to go in terms of long term strategy for a modest campaign, but having sitting federal lower house MPs would have been an enormous momentum boost for the Greens.

  13. I’m not sure Scott Ludlam is all that keen in contesting a HOR seat. As popular a candidate he may be, even if he did stand and improve the Green vote he would likely fall a fair distance short.

  14. The Other option would be former WA Greens leader Lynn MacLaren, she lost her seat at the last state election to the Liberal Democrats. However, she may have american citizenship and such would be unable to run.

  15. Nicole Robins is the newly endorsed Liberal Candidate for Fremantle.

    Surprising how early the Libs have preselected here, given they didn’t run in the by-election.

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