Western Australia Archive

Guide to Vasse by-election posted

Vasse1-2PPVoters in the WA town of Busselton and surrounding areas will be going to the polls later this year in a by-election for the state electorate of Vasse, after the resignation earlier this week of former Liberal leader and Treasurer Troy Buswell.

Buswell resigned as Treasurer in March after a recent mental health breakdown, and revealed that he was living with bipolar disorder.

Vasse is a very safe Liberal seat and should be safely retained by the Liberal Party. A date has not been set yet, but the by-election should take place later this year, with a WA state election not due until March 2017.

You can now read the guide to the by-election, including 2013 election results and maps of the electorate.

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WA redistribution – what could happen?

In 2015, New South Wales and Western Australia will both undergo redistributions to redraw federal electoral boundaries due to New South Wales losing its 48th seat and Western Australia gaining its 16th seat. Yesterday I looked at enrolment numbers in NSW seats, and how that redistribution might play out.

In Western Australia, boundaries will be drawn to create a sixteenth electorate. Each electorate will need to be within 10% of the quota, based on 2015 population, and within 3.5% of a quota based on projected population in three and a half years.

Based on April population, all but one of Western Australia’s existing seats is over quota, with Canning over quota by 14%.

The enormous northern electorate of Durack is just under quota, and will probably require no change.

Population growth has been greatest in the electorates of Brand, Canning and Pearce, as well as Fremantle. These four seats are all at least 10% over quota.

Overall, the three regional seats of Durack, O’Connor and Forrest are 9% over quota.

The five electorates south of the river are 44% over quota, while the six electorates north of the river are 39% over quota. The one seat to the east of the river, Hasluck, is 8% over quota.

The most likely outcome will see seats across Perth contracting in size, and effectively the seat of Hasluck will be broken in half, into two eastern seats, one in the north and one in the south, while there will be minimal changes in regional WA.

WA government releases new council map for Perth

The Western Australian government has recently unveiled its latest plans to drastically reduce the number of councils covering the Perth area.

The latest model reduces the number of councils in Perth from 30 to 15, with only three councils left without boundary changes. One council outside Perth (Murray Shire) expanded to cover parts of a neighbouring council that had been abolished.

The changes varied from the original plan, in particular with a Fremantle council remaining separate from Melville.

I have produced a Google Earth map covering the proposed Perth boundaries, which you can view and toggle between the current boundaries and the proposed boundaries. Download it here.

Below the fold you can also see the inner-Perth boundaries, before and after the proposed changes.

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Numbers point to WA Senate by-election

Update: The result today saw Scott Ludlam (GRN) and Wayne Dropulich (Sports Party) elected instead of the PUP and ALP candidates who had won in the first count. The margin at the key point is 12 votes, a net turn-around of 26 votes. The case seems set to head to the Court of Disputed Returns.

Original post: After the AEC announced on Thursday that 1375 votes were missing in the WA Senate recount, many people quickly jumped to the conclusion that a WA Senate by-election was needed to resolve the situation.

This was slightly premature, as it was still possible that the recount would be decisive enough that those votes wouldn’t make a difference.

However after examining the latest numbers on the AEC’s Virtual Tally Room, I believe that there are two alternative methods of coming to a result that produce different winners, and this probably means that a by-election will be needed.

There are four booths where votes are missing, these are:

  • Bunbury East (Forrest)
  • Henley Brook (Pearce)
  • Mount Helena (Pearce)
  • Wundowie (Pearce)

However, it is not the case that all of the votes at these booths are missing.

According to the latest figures on the AEC’s Virtual Tally Room, 3445 votes have been counted at these booths (including informal votes). This compares to 4799 before the recount started. Confusingly, this adds up to 1354 votes missing. I don’t know why this diverges from the public figure of 1375, but I’m going to set that aside for now.

There are five parties that we need to track for the purposes of determining who will win.

The critical count that is decisive was the point where the Shooters and Fishers defeated the Australian Christians by 14 votes. This produced a victory for the second Labor candidate and the Palmer United Party. If this 14-vote margin was reversed, then the last two seats would have gone to the Greens and the Australian Sports Party.

Prior to this count, three others parties had been excluded and had passed on their above-the-line preferences to either the Shooters or the Christians. The Australian Independents and the Fishing and Lifestyle Party preferenced the Shooters, and the Climate Sceptics preferenced the Christians.

For these purposes I am ignoring all other parties and only looking at the net change in votes between the Shooters/AFLP/Aus Independents grouping and the Christians/Climate Sceptics grouping.

The disappearance of the 1354 votes at those four booths produced the following net change at those booths from pre-recount to post-recount.

Party Pre-recount Post-recount Different
Shooters and Fishers 68 54 -14
Australian Independents 8 4 -4
Fishing and Lifestyle Party 24 23 -1
Shooters Total 100 81 -19
Australian Christians 68 66 -2
Climate Sceptics 3 1 -2
Christians Total 71 67 -4

The missing votes massively disadvantage the Shooters grouping – by a net 15 votes, which is enough to flip the result.

It should be noted that this is based on the assumption that there were no changes in the 3445 votes from those four booths that were counted, but this is unlikely. So the composition of the missing votes could be slightly different to what is listed above.

In the rest of the state, despite quite a lot of votes being challenged and anecdotal reports suggesting many votes had flipped, overall the Shooters grouping has lost only one seat relative to the Christians grouping.

This table lists the vote before and after the recount for the remainder of the state, with all votes at the four key booths excluded.

Party Pre-recount Post-recount Different
Shooters and Fishers 13,565 13,573 +8
Australian Independents 4,034 4,039 +5
Fishing and Lifestyle Party 5,703 5,706 +3
Shooters Total 23,302 23,318 +16
Australian Christians 21,410 21,438 +28
Climate Sceptics 1,491 1,480 -11
Christians Total 22,901 22,918 +17

There appears to be two possible ways to produce a result using these votes:

  1. Only count those votes that have been managed to be recounted, with the missing votes excluded from the count, which will likely result in a very slim victory for the Christians, and thus for the Greens and the Sports Party.
  2. Substitute votes cast at the four booths where votes are missing for the count from prior to the recount, which will likely result in a slim victory for the Shooters, and thus for the ALP and the Palmer United Party.

It is also possible that changes to below-the-line votes that were previously counted as informal could shift the count, but it is clear that the result remains extremely close and likely to not produce a clear outcome. In such a scenario, the case for a statewide Senate by-election becomes quite strong.

WA redistribution finalised

The final boundaries for the next WA state election were finally released on Monday. After a couple of days of work on it I have now published my Google Earth maps of WA, and you can download them from my Maps page.

You might want to also look at the margins for the new seats calculated for Antony Green’s ABC Elections website.

This means that I have now updated all Australian federal and state electoral maps up to the latest maps provided. We are waiting on the final federal boundaries for South Australia, which are expected later this year. Following that, we won’t have any state redistributions until those for the state elections in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, who will go to the polls in 2014-15.

I had been hoping to put together a ward map of Western Australia for their elections this Saturday but this sadly won’t happen in time. I am planning on completing ward maps for the NSW, Victorian and Queensland council elections due next year but I don’t think I will go back and do them retrospectively for WA.

Seat profile #146: Moore

Moore is a safe Liberal seat in northern Perth. Apart from a period in the 1980s, the seat has been dominated by the Liberal Party. The seat has been held by Mal Washer since 1998.

Moore covers most of Joondalup council area and a small part of Wanneroo council area. It is the northermost seat in the Perth area, along the coast.

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Seat profile #145: Curtin

Curtin is a safe Liberal seat in western Perth. Despite being named after the former Labor prime minister, the seat has never been won by the ALP. The Liberal Party has only lost the seat once, in 1996 when the sitting Liberal MP lost endorsement and won re-election as an independent. The seat was held by prominent Liberal Paul Hasluck from 1949 until his retirement in 1969 when he was appointed Governor-General. It has been held by Julie Bishop since 1998.

The seat covers affluent suburbs along the north shore of the Swan River to the west of the Perth CBD, and along the west coast.

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Seat profile #144: Tangney

Tangney is a relatively safe Liberal seat in southern Perth. Tangney’s suburbs include Alfred Cove, Attadale, Melville, Applecross, Mount Pleasant, Winthrop, Leeming, Willetton, Canning Vale, Rossmoyne and Shelley.

Tangney has been won by the Liberal Party at all but two elections since its creation in 1974. The seat was held from 1993 to 2004 by Daryl Williams, who served as Attorney-General from 1996 to 2003 and continued to serve in the Howard government’s cabinet until 2004.

The seat has been held since 2004 by former CSIRO research scientist Dennis Jensen. He has developed a reputation as the more ardent climate change sceptic in the Liberal Party. He was defeated for preselection before the 2007 and 2010 elections in ballots of local Liberal members, but both preselections were later overturned by higher authorities.

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Seat profile #143: Perth

Perth is a relatively safe seat for the ALP covering the Perth CBD and areas to the northeast. The seat covers the suburbs of Maylands, Mount Lawley, Bayswater, Ashfield, Bedford, Morley and Beechboro, as well as Perth itself.

The seat had a long history of being marginal, but recently has become a reasonably solid Labor seat, having been held by the ALP continuously since 1983. The seat was held from 1983 to 1993 by Olympic hockey player Ric Charlesworth, who competed in his fourth and fifth Olympics while holding the seat of Perth. Charlesworth retired in 1993 at the ripe old age of 41, and was succeeded by Stephen Smith. He has held the seat ever since, and is now Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in the federal Labor government.

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Seat profile #142: Fremantle

Fremantle is a safe Labor seat in Perth. The seat covers the centre of Fremantle itself, as well as surrounding areas, including Cockburn, Coolbellup, Palmyra, Success, Atwell, Jandakot, Spearwood, Coogee, Beaconsfield and Hamilton.

It has been held continuously by the ALP since 1934. The seat was held by John Curtin from 1929 to 1931 and again from 1934 until his death in 1945. He was replaced in 1945 by Kim Beazley Sr, who served as a senior Labor figure during the long years in opposition in the 1950s and 1960s, and served as a minister in the Whitlam government. He was succeeded in 1977 by John Dawkins, who served as a cabinet minister in the Hawke government and as Paul Keating’s Treasurer until his retirement in 1993. The seat was won in a 1994 by-election by former Premier Carmen Lawrence, who held the seat until her retirement in 2007.

At the last election, the seat was won by former United Nations lawyer Melissa Parke.

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