O’Connor – Australia 2013

NAT vs LIB 3.6%

Incumbent MP
Tony Crook, since 2010

Geography
Regional Western Australia. O’Connor is a massive electorate, covering the southern half of Western Australia away from the heavily-populated south-western corner of the state. O’Connor covers the major centres of Kalgoorlie, Albany and Esperance, as well as southern parts of the wheatbelt. The seat stretches as far west as Bridgetown and Manjimup.

History
A seat has existed with the name of O’Connor since 1980, but the boundaries were redrawn radically before the 2010 election. The neighbouring seat of Kalgoorlie was abolished, with northern parts of Kalgoorlie and O’Connor going into a new seat of Durack, with O’Connor taking in southern parts of Kalgoorlie.

O’Connor was won in 1980 by the Liberal Party’s Wilson Tuckey.

Tuckey served on the Liberal frontbench from 1984 to 1989 and again from 1993 to 1996. He served as a minister in the Howard government from 1998 to 2003.

Tuckey has developed a reputation as a maverick and a member of the Liberal Party’s far right. The ALP has never threatened Tuckey’s hold on the seat, but in 2007 he was considered at risk of losing. The Nationals gained a large swing and came within 3% of overtaking the ALP, while Tuckey’s primary vote fell below 50%.

Kalgoorlie had traditionally been dominated by the ALP, but was won by the Liberal Party’s Barry Haase in 1998.

Haase ran for Durack in 2010, while Tuckey again ran for O’Connor.

Tuckey was defeated in a close race by the Nationals candidate, Tony Crook. Crook benefited from Labor and Greens preferences.

Crook chose not to sit as a member of the Coalition, and has sat on the crossbenches, although still maintaining a relationship with other Nationals MPs.

Candidates
Sitting Nationals MP Tony Crook is not running for re-election.

  • Michael Salt (Labor)
  • Jean Robinson (Citizens Electoral Council)
  • Phillip Bouwman (Katter’s Australian Party)
  • William Witham (Nationals)
  • Vanessa Korber (Rise Up Australia)
  • Diane Evers (Greens)
  • Mike Walsh (Australian Christians)
  • Rick Wilson (Liberal)
  • Steven Fuhrmann (Family First)
  • Jane Mouritz (Independent)
  • Michael Lucas (Palmer United Party)

Assessment
The Nationals have had a lot of success in WA, including at the last two state elections and in O’Connor in 2010. The Liberal Party will be hoping to gain the seat back, particularly with Crook retiring after one term. The Nationals’ ability to retain the seat will depend on their choice of candidate and whether they can gain preferences from other parties.

2010 result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Wilson TuckeyLIB31,29438.36-10.36
Tony CrookNAT23,53828.85+19.68
Ian BishopALP13,96217.11-9.15
Andy HuntleyGRN7,2328.86+1.73
Jacky YoungCDP2,2212.72+0.09
Geoffrey StokesIND1,2981.59+1.59
Pat ScallanFF1,1641.43+0.21
Neil SmithsonIND5000.61+0.61
Jean RobinsonCEC3750.46+0.08

2010 two-candidate-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Tony CrookNAT43,69353.56
Wilson TuckeyLIB37,89146.44
Polling places in O'Connor at the 2010 federal election. Goldfields in yellow, Great Southern in blue, South East in red, South West in orange, Wheatbelt in green. Click to enlarge.
Polling places in O’Connor at the 2010 federal election. Goldfields in yellow, Great Southern in blue, South East in red, South West in orange, Wheatbelt in green. Click to enlarge.

Booth breakdown
Booths have been divided into five areas, along local government areas. There are a large number of council areas in O’Connor. Booths in the north-east, including Kalgoorlie, have been grouped as Goldfields. Booths in the south-east include Esperance. The ‘Great Southern’ area includes Albany. The remainder has been split into Wheatbelt and South West.

The Nationals polled a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote in all five areas, varying from 50.7% in the South West to 61.8% in the Goldfields. The Liberal Party won a majority amongst pre-poll, postal and absentee votes.

Voter groupALP %NAT 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Great Southern18.1553.8426,19632.11
Goldfields19.3461.7811,59714.21
Wheatbelt10.7553.8510,65813.06
South West19.0650.737,3629.02
South East15.7753.036,6268.12
Other votes17.6049.2819,14523.47
Two-candidate-preferred votes in O'Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Two-candidate-preferred votes in O’Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Labor primary votes in O'Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Labor primary votes in O’Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Two-candidate-preferred votes in the south-western part of O'Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Two-candidate-preferred votes in the south-western part of O’Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Labor primary votes in the south-western part of O'Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Labor primary votes in the south-western part of O’Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Two-candidate-preferred votes in the Albany part of O'Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Two-candidate-preferred votes in the Albany part of O’Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Labor primary votes in the Albany part of O'Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Labor primary votes in the Albany part of O’Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Two-candidate-preferred votes in the Kalgoorlie part of O'Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Two-candidate-preferred votes in the Kalgoorlie part of O’Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Labor primary votes in the Kalgoorlie part of O'Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Labor primary votes in the Kalgoorlie part of O’Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Two-candidate-preferred votes in the Esperance part of O'Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Two-candidate-preferred votes in the Esperance part of O’Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Labor primary votes in the Esperance part of O'Connor at the 2010 federal election.
Labor primary votes in the Esperance part of O’Connor at the 2010 federal election.

23 COMMENTS

  1. Does anyone know why Crook has resigned? It’s unusual for an MP to bow out after one term, particularly one with no scandals.

  2. Thanks for that Mr. Raue, although his service was very short, he’ll always be in my good books for one thing: Defeating Wilson Tuckey!

  3. I’ll bet you had fun trying to draw this map. If ever there’s an argument for some sort of reorganisation of local govt in WA, this map is it. That green smear of pixels on the Great Southern Hwy is the Town of Narrogin, not to be confused with the Shire of Narrogin (which also has its office in guess what town). It’s not even the only shire in this electorate without a town big enough to be shown in the street directory, and they had a referendum a few years ago on whether to abolish the stupid donut-shire situation (Northam and Albany got rid of theirs in recent years). Of course they voted no.

  4. If you’ve noticed the profiles slow down, this seat (and Kennedy – hopefully up before the weekend) are the reason why. Gigantic maps took me ages to put together, although the actual LGA boundaries were pre-made.

    Lyne, New England and Kennedy will be posted today or tomorrow, then I will take a break from posting profiles to make more maps of marginal Coalition seats and then run through those.

  5. Does anyone have information on the National candidate and any thoughts on who would be preferred to win in the Lib v Nat race (assuming no other candidate has a real chance of winning)? Based on the state election I would favour the Libs? This is a gut feel rather than an analysis of the booths.

  6. Nats confident of retaining this seat, I don’t know much about the candidate but I think this seat may well come down to who Labor and the Greens preference, I don’t see either party winning on first preferences.

  7. my complaint about this seat and the other outback seat of Durack…….. where is the community of interest?

  8. With three-quarters of WA’s population living in Perth and most of the rest living in the south-west, having two massive seats is unavoidable unless the size of parliament is greatly expanded. The previous layout of Kalgoorlie and O’Connor made more sense by land use (putting all the wheatbelt in one seat), but Kalgoorlie was famously enormous.

    The two big seats will probably be the last two to get drawn next redistribution (when WA gets a 16th seat). They won’t change much in area, as their need to lose a slice of population is offset by their lack of population growth compared to Perth and the SW, but there’ll be a lot of nips and tucks where they join Pearce, Canning and Forrest. It’ll be messy.

  9. http://results.aec.gov.au/15508/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-15508-243.htm

    The AEC page reckons it’s a 23% margin. However, they don’t mention candidate names in the 2pp count, just Labor and “Liberal-National Coalition”, so it’s hard to tell if they’re counting Tuckey or Crook as the “Coalition” candidate. A Nat vs ALP margin would be larger than a Lib vs ALP margin, as a decent amount of Nat preferences go to Labor (depleting the Libs’ margin), but pretty much all the Libs follow the card.

  10. I had a look at the numbers for the various elections for the seat, Bird of Paradox, and I think you’re wrong. As far as I can see, the vast majority of WA Nats votes went to Libs in 2PP (as opposed to 2CP, which, in 2010, was Nats vs Libs). If one splits the numbers based on left vs right as is common, they’re pretty close to the 2PP splits. The only way that Nats preferences were flowing to Labor is if somehow Greens votes flowed to the Libs.

    That being said, this is the first election at which the Liberal candidate isn’t Wilson Tuckey. This is a case of uncharted waters, in my opinion.

    What’s interesting is that, back when the now-defunct division of Kalgoorlie covered most of the area that is now O’Connor (Kalgoorlie was abolished before the 2010 election, with Durack being created), the seat bounced back and forth between Labor and Liberal, going back to 1940 (the 1940 election was the last time that the seat was held at the election by the party of the retiring MP). This is notable because it suggests that those in “outback” Western Australia may have more of a tendency to be loyal to their MP, rather than to the party.

    My point here is that, with Crook not standing for reelection, and with Wilson Tuckey not running for the seat, we may find that it’s a much closer race than in any previous election for this seat. Probably still either a WA Nats hold or a Libs gain, but I could see the seat ending up significantly more marginal (at least in terms of 2PP)… and then becoming much safer again at the next election. Or I could be wrong – like I said, this is uncharted territory for this seat.

  11. As far as I can see, the vast majority of WA Nats votes went to Libs in 2PP (as opposed to 2CP, which, in 2010, was Nats vs Libs).

    It’s this bit I continue to quibble with. Bearing in mind O’Connor was won by the Nats from the Libs in 2010, and both parties are considered “Coalition” over east, which candidate (out of Tuckey and Crook) was counted in the final two against Labor, and which one had their preferences distributed? (I honestly don’t know, so if somebody does, tell me and we’ll both know. 🙂 )

    The 2008 WA election had two seats up north (both in Durack federally) where this effect showed up. In North West, Nick Catania (then a Labor MP, although he jumped ship later on) was very lucky to win with a primary vote in the 30’s, because the Nats came a narrow third and he got enough of their preferences to win. Next door in Pilbara, Labor had a similar 2pp margin despite having a much bigger primary vote, because the Nats came second, the Lib votes were distributed and they went much less to Labor than the Nat votes in North West.

    Pilbara: 44.4% primary; 53.6% 2pp (vs Nat)
    North West: 36.2% primary, 53.1% 2pp (vs Lib)

    (Another factor that complicates things still further is the amount of Labor MP’s who have turned independent – there’s been several in the last coupla decades.)

    Of course, in 2013 the Nats consolidated what they’d got, and Labor were the ones to have their preferences distributed in all this part of WA except for the Kimberley (and even that seat had a brain-frying coupla days when the Greens honestly had a chance of winning themselves). The game’s changed again.

  12. Also, be careful with this:

    the now-defunct division of Kalgoorlie covered most of the area that is now O’Connor

    Area isn’t population. The old O’Connor was a (relatively) densely populated wheatbelt seat you could drive from one end to the other in one long day, while Kalgoorlie was bigger than Queensland. Roughly half of their populations went into each new seat, so both Durack and O’Connor have a large majority of their area that used to be in Kalgoorlie.

  13. Bird of Paradox – you can determine which candidate was taken for 2CP by looking at this page:

    http://results.aec.gov.au/15508/Website/HouseDivisionScrutinyForInfo-15508-243.htm

    Unfortunately, I’d looked at the wikipedia page, which claimed that it was Libs and Tuckey that took the Coalition spot in 2PP – it was wrong (I’ve since corrected it).

    But if one wants to further confirm that Nats votes aren’t going to Labor in any particular volume, one needs only look at 2007.

    http://results.aec.gov.au/13745/Website/HouseDivisionTcpFlow-13745-243.htm

    Over 80% of Nationals preferences went to the Liberals, with Greens preferences flowing the other way in about the same proportions. Other candidates typically saw 50% or so to either party. We can be fairly confident that similar numbers occurred in 2010, in terms of preference flow.

    Unfortunately, with no information on how Libs preferences actually flowed in 2010, I can’t determine an accurate estimate of the proportion of Libs preferences going to Nats. But it doesn’t matter – 20% of preferences going elsewhere is not really a “decent amount”.

  14. A lot of those marginal Nat/Lib booths in the wheatbelt are some of the most rock solid Nat booths anywhere for state elections… the seat of Wagin went 63.7% Nat, 17.4% Lib at the last election. There’s a hell of a lot of typical Nats voters who have been voting for Tuckey federally for years, so that’s a lot of low-hanging fruit for them. Meanwhile, they won Kalgoorlie and Warren-Blackwood and came very close in Eyre.

    The only thing stopping this from being a certain Nat retain is Labor’s HTV card, which has the Libs ahead of the Nats, but that might not have such a huge effect. They tried that in Warren-Blackwood in March (so did the Greens), but plenty of their voters ignored the card and put the Nats ahead instead, so Terry Redman hung on. My prediction: roughly 10% swing on primary votes from Libs to Nats (KAP oughta get their deposit back too), and the 2pp margin to be little changed.

  15. O’Connor and Durrack are interesting case studies in betting market’s predictive value of outcomes. Both these seats are priced as very strong chances for the Liberal party to win over the Nationals. Much of what I have read is that these two seats will be close and could go either way. Will watch with interest to see what happens.

  16. The WA Nats have been very successful recently. Their move away from the Libs to a more mercenary position has resulted in pretty exciting results for the party. I think the Nats will hold O’Connor and pick up Durack.

  17. Tony Crook stood for something different and rode the wave of the previous “Royalties for Regions” state election. Things were different then.

    I think the Nationals have suffered as a result of decisions, especially massive price hikes, by the WA state government. Nationals MP Terry Redman, as education minister, recently announced TAFE fee increases of 1000% (one thousand percent) over three years – a huge kick in the guts to kids who are sitting exams in the next few weeks and who had plans to go to TAFE next year. Many of them will simply not be able to afford TAFE with the new fee structure and are left having to rethink their futures, just weeks from finishing school.

    Although parties like to try and separate state and federal issues, Brendon Grylls fronted the federal campaign, so there is a connection.

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