WA redistribution and Canning – open thread


There are two major electoral events in Western Australia which kicked off last week. I’m still working on maps for these projects, so this is an open thread for discussion on these topics until later this week.

The draft electoral boundaries for the 2017 WA state election were released on Friday. I’ll be publishing an interactive map later this week. In the meantime, Antony Green has described the changes, and calculated estimated margins, at ABC Elections.

A federal by-election is also due for the WA seat of Canning following the death last week of Liberal MP Don Randall. I’m also working on a guide for the by-election, which should be up later this week.

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  1. I’ll start off with the Freo area, since there’s a few interesting features there. There’s a block of four seats bordered by the coast, Swan and Canning rivers: Fremantle, Willagee, Alfred Cove and Bateman, which have had a heap of chopping and changing (probably more than necessary).

    Freo has lost its only Lib voting suburb and gained some of the strongest Labor booths anywhere in Perth. It’ll probably have a 2pp margin above 20% in any half-decent year, but the Greens have a much better chance of coming second.

    Willagee (Murdoch) looks pretty marginal, but Peter Tinley should be able to hang on – 2013 was the low tide mark for Labor. Funny thing is, Murdoch used to be a safe Lib seat in the 90’s (more comparable to Bateman or Jandakot).

    Alfred Cove (Burt) is now vaguely winnable by Labor – not bad for a seat they didn’t even contest in 2001 and came third in 2005 and 2008. (It’s actually more marginal than Riverton, Bunbury or Kingsley, all Labor-held for part of the Gallop govt.) There’ll probably be a tussle between Dean Nalder and Matt Brown over who gets to have uber-safe Toohey. If Nalder ends up in Burt, there’s a major local issue that’ll work against him: the Perth Freight Link (the new Roe 8 / Freo Eastern Bypass, basically). Nalder is transport minister, so he’ll be looking down the barrel there.

  2. I have to wonder if Collie-Capel will be difficult for Labor to retain. I have heard several reports that he is set to retire after this term. Surely his personal vote will be a loss for the ALP.

    On the other side of politics, Jan Norberger over in Joondalup must be fairly happy, the redistribution more than doubled the Liberal margin there.

  3. Albert Jacob (current MP for Ocean Reef, stupidly renamed “Hale”) will want the safe seat… he’s a minister, Norberger ain’t. Then there’s the potential spanner in the works of Rob Johnson running as an independent in Hillarys.

    Collie’s an interesting one. Usually, you’d assume Labor’s vote will go up roughly uniformly with the state swing in 2017. However, that can’t easily happen in the town of Collie – despite being in a marginal seat, literally all of the best (70%+) Labor booths in the whole state are there. The only way is down, particularly if Murray retires.

    More regional: North West Central is now larger than the state of NSW. I know it’s cool to hate politicians and claim there should be less of them, but when one MP represents an area of over 900,000 sq km (remember, this is still a heavily malapportioned seat), it’s time to talk about enlarging parliament. Even Central Wheatbelt is very close to tripping the 100,000 sq km limit for the large district allowance (Darkan and Southern Cross are a long way apart).

  4. Goosh Goosh,

    I don’t know enough about politics in WA to make a comment, but there is one most important rule that you need to adopt with Elections in regional areas and that is that the your choice of candidate is the BIG difference and often determines the the outcome.

  5. BoP

    The problem is that the quota is already pretty low, only ~25,000 per District. If you increased the size of the Parliament, the city seats would start to become ridiculously small.

    I suppose you could potentially fiddle with the LDA criteria to increase the enrolment of the very large Districts further. That might help prevent Districts becoming ridiculously large. But you then run into the problem of Districts being padded with “fake” electors, which have no capacity for real growth.

  6. have forgotten but think the 2pp vote was something like 58/42 the liberals way at the last election opinion polls show on av 52/48 labors way so 10% plus swings aren’t out of the question
    at last election there was a 3.7% swing against Labor in Collie- Preston the redistn makes
    the margin 3.5% the Liberal way….. thus the seat is virtually line ball…. if Mr Murray recontests

  7. Mark, I live in the inner city, so I’m very aware of what you’re saying – there isn’t a part of my electorate that I couldn’t walk to in an hour or so. (I can walk from the Flying Scotsman to the WACA in less time than Vince Catania can fly from Carnarvon to Laverton.) Thing is, if you’re going to have a system of single-member districts with an equal(ish) number of voters, in a state with such a centralised population, you have to put up with either (a) really small districts in Perth or (b) enormous districts elsewhere. There isn’t an easy way out of that bind.

  8. It is incredible that the Liberal margin in Geraldton, a seat that Labor won as recently as 2005, is higher than Cottesloe

  9. I’m really interested in Fremantle, I understand it has lost the best Liberal booth, and it is by far the best Green seat in WA. I’m curious if they would target Fremantle, maybe to consolidate future chances, not necessarliy 2017 but beyond.

  10. In response to Liam, the Green primary vote in Fremantle increases slightly to 19.0% well above all seats other than Kimberley. Hilton has a strong Green vote but the Hamilton Hill and Spearwood boxes from Willagee are more conventionally strong ALP. The Greens could finish 2nd in the new Fremantle in a favourable climate.

  11. Also in response to Jeremy, depending on whether Adele Carles the former Green/Independent MP contests again, the 5.8% of the vote which she received in the last election may in fact swing back to the Greens helping their cause.

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