Willagee by-election day

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Voters in the southern Perth state electorate of Willagee go to the polls today to elect a new state  MP to succeed former Labor premier Alan Carpenter, who retired from politics in September after losing government at the 2008 election.

The seat is not being contested by the Liberals and the main two contenders are former military man Peter Tinley running for the ALP and union organiser Hsien Harper running for the Greens. Also running is Henri Chew of the Christian Democratic Party and Gerry Georgatos, a former Greens member running as an independent.

There have been comparisons made with neighbouring Fremantle, where the Greens won the seat off the ALP in a May by-election. Willagee, however, is a much stronger area for the ALP and nowhere near as strong for the Greens as their heartland in Fremantle.

In addition, the party has been damaged in the seat by the candidacy of Gerry Georgatos, who had originally been preselected for the seat when it was expected that a Willagee by-election would be held six months ago in conjunction with the Fremantle by-election. Georgatos allowed a new preselection, which saw Harper win, and Georgatos responded by running as an independent and indeed preference the ALP’s Tinley ahead of the Greens. Georgatos supporters have been fiercely critical of the party on Poll Bludger’s Willagee thread.

Post any comments about tonight’s results here. There will undoubtedly be coverage of tonight’s results elsewhere from Antony Green at ABC Elections and Fremantle local William Bowe at Poll Bludger.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. As Kim Beazley said at Peter Tinley’s candidate announcement, “People must remember that before Alan Carpenter, Willagee was not a ‘safe seat'”

    After Freo, I’d say ‘safe seats’ are harder to classify or predict.

  2. Well, I find the reaction of the ALP and press to be interesting. The ABC has a report (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/11/29/2756442.htm) discussing the ALP celebration of victory. What I find interesting is this is the kind of commentary you might have expected from the ALP when up against a Lib candidate. Given the previous profile of the seat, and the fact that Carpenter won it last time with 51%, a well-oiled party machine might have had a few congratulatory drinks and then moved on to the business of winning the next election but Ripper says “This is what the party wanted, it’s a shot in the arm for Labor and it really is a result that is a credit to all of the Labor Party and the way we’ve been able to work together.” Of course, Fremantle was a bit of a shock to them, although one they might have been better braced for, but this reads as if the ALP were actually taking this as a REAL challenge ie; a if they were up against the Libs. The vociferousness of the ALP commentators on Pollbludger mirrors the kind of commentary usually reserved for the Liberal Party.

    Why is this interesting? It might mean the acceptance, if only unconsciously, that Australia has moved away from a traditional 2-party system to a 2 + 1/2 + 1/2 – maybe even the beginnings of a multi-party state.

    Or am I reading too much into this?

  3. I think it says that Eric Ripper is trying to tell the media how popular his opposition is when in reality they are well down in the polls and he will probably be knocked off by some young go-getter soon. But you may have a point.

  4. It’s the response of a party desperate for good news after a general election defeat, a by-election defeat and a party defection all in the space of the last year or so.

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