O’Connor – Australia 2022

LIB 15.4%

Incumbent MP
Rick Wilson, since 2013.

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 Collie, Nannup and Manjimup.

Redistribution
O’Connor expanded to take in Boddington council area from Canning, Beverley council area from Pearce, Nannup council area from Forrest and a collection of fifteen council areas from Durack, as well as Wiluna Shire further north. These changes increased the Liberal margin from 14.5% to 15.4%.

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 developed a reputation as a maverick and a member of the Liberal Party’s far right. The ALP 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.

After one term, Crook retired in 2013, and Liberal candidate Rick Wilson was elected by a narrow margin over the Nationals candidate. Wilson won re-election in 2016 and 2019.

Candidates

  • Stan Kustrin (One Nation)
  • Shaneane Weldon (Labor)
  • Giz Watson (Greens)
  • Isaac Middle (Federation)
  • Morris Bessant (Western Australia Party)
  • Justin Moseley (Australian Christians)
  • Tracy Tirronen (United Australia)
  • Brenden Barber (Great Australian Party)
  • Rick Wilson (Liberal)
  • Assessment
    The Liberal Party is at no risk of losing O’Connor. In the past the Nationals have won this seat. They would need to significantly increase their vote, but it remains their most viable option in the state.

    2019 result

    CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
    Rick Wilson Liberal 36,13542.0-0.642.5
    Shelley Payne Labor 18,24321.2+0.320.6
    John Hassell Nationals 10,79512.6-5.813.1
    Dean SmithOne Nation7,2528.4+8.48.5
    Nelson Blake Gilmour Greens 7,2458.4-1.98.2
    Ian ‘T HartAustralian Christians2,5272.9-1.12.7
    Anthony James FelsUnited Australia Party1,5981.9+1.91.9
    Peter SwiftWestern Australia Party1,2791.5+1.51.6
    Nicholas Andrew RobinsonGreat Australian Party8831.0+1.00.9
    Others0.1
    Informal5,7856.3+2.5

    2019 two-party-preferred result

    CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
    Rick Wilson Liberal 55,42164.5-0.665.4
    Shelley Payne Labor 30,53635.5+0.634.6

    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, and makes up over 40% of the election-day ordinary votes. The remainder has been split into Wheatbelt and South West.

    The Liberal Party’s two-party-preferred vote (against Labor) ranged from 56.2% in the south-west to 78.6% in the wheatbelt.

    The National primary vote ranged from 7.8% in the south-west to 26.5% in the wheatbelt.

    Voter groupNAT prim %LIB 2PP %Total votes% of votes
    Great Southern12.464.322,54223.4
    Wheatbelt26.578.612,39212.9
    Goldfields9.459.57,9338.2
    South West7.856.27,8298.1
    South East11.769.34,6284.8
    Pre-poll10.463.327,11128.1
    Other votes12.766.913,88114.4

    Election results in O’Connor at the 2019 federal election
    Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for the Liberal Party, Labor and the Nationals.

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    13 COMMENTS

    1. Very strong chance the WA nationals could get this but it is still early to say. There is not a single Liberal MP in O’Connor or Durrack on the state level and not all of them went Labor, Now that the WA Nationals are in opposition this could bolster their chances. Mia Davies would be wise to be out here and campaign for the Nats because this is very winnable now that the party is more visible than the WA Liberals especially in the regions.

      Considering the WA Nats are very unlikely to help Labor form government the coalition shouldn’t stress about this seat. And it is possible the WA Nats could enter a formal coalition with the Liberals basically meaning the WA Nationals formally merge with the Countrywide National party.

      Now that I think about it, the defeated National MP in Warren-Blackwood could run here and he would be a formidable challenge to Wilson. Add Brendan Grylls in Durrack and the WA Nationals have a very strong chance of flipping these rural mining seats.

    2. I would probably argue that Durack should be left alone – current MP Melissa Price is already a junior minister and performing fairly well in her portfolio. She has the potential to become a future cabinet minister or opposition frontbencher (should the Coalition lose office). O’Connor is a different story as Rick Wilson is a backbencher so the Nationals may wish to field a high profile candidate.

    3. Yoh An

      Melissa Price is already a cabinet minister despite Defence Science always being a junior role. She is also Minister for Science – and look how prominent she is there! She was Minister for Environment and made a real hash of it. She is a prime example of how little depth of talent there is in the Morrison ministry. At present, her main role is maintaining a WA presence in cabinet. However, it is hard to imagine how hard working you would need to work when you hold a regional seat in WA (or say Lingiari or Maranoa as well) for that matter. These seats are huge and they are a long way from Canberra – a whole day of travel each way. I noted that she had been criticised at one stage for living in Perth. As strange as it may seem, it may be easier to serve a seat like Durack by flying out to the different places from Perth rather than travelling between them .

    4. The Nationals are no chance in O’Connor – Wilson will be returned without much trouble. Incumbency in such a large electorate is a huge advantage. He has had three terms publicly funded to travel the electorate and raise his name and profile. There is no way the Nationals or the ALP can fund a campaign for a candidate to get well known across O’Connor. Even though the state Libs have been decimated that will not matter much as Wilson is well-established.

    5. Wilson is too conservative for this seat. He is part of the Dutton wing of the party correct? I can see a more moderate conservative winning. Truth is Wilson will become the next Wilson Tuckey who also happened to be too conservative. Why do they win? Simply having an (L) next to their name, Nothing else. If the Nats try they can win but if they don’t put much effort into this seat then they cannot expect results.

      The Libs lost Kalgoorlie at the state election. this should scare Wilson

    6. Yes, Wilson is seen as quite conservative but the Nats cannot win O’Connor without a very high profile candidate, lots of money and big issues to campaign on to strip primary votes off the Liberal member. Two election cycles ago the GST imbalance was about the only major issue that the Libs appeared weak on. That issue has been neutralised by the deal Scott Morrison did so what is the electoral platform for a Nats candidate? Prior to the 2013 election when he was elected, Wilson made something like 23 visits to the Goldfields as the Liberal candidate, from his base in the wheatbelt. The Goldfields appeared to be a stronghold for the Nats at the time with the State member a Nat and Tony Crook standing down for a new Federal candidate but they did not crack a 20% primary vote at a single booth in that region. The Nats ran John Hassell at the 2016 and 2019 elections and his vote went backwards at the 2019 poll compared to 2016. Hard to see how the Nats or the ALP could come up with a winning campaign strategy across such a diverse electorate.

    7. Hi Ben, Great work. Just a note – O’Connor also includes the Shire of Wiluna from Durack. Hardly any voters but a lot of area! Thanks

    8. Wow, Nats not putting up a candidate at all? Surprising. Greens candidate this time around looks much more solid than 2019. Hopefully increases the vote this time around a bit. Significant reduction in rainfall over the south west since the 70s (dropped about 40% I think) is an issue for the electorate and its future. Although the farmers mostly still do very well, the forests are suffering.

    9. the nationals candidate was disqualified as he recived money from the federal governemtn through hiring an appprentice and is hterefore seen as a contractor of the governemnt and under law cannot run for parliament

    10. The Nats did try to nominate a candidate, very much at the 11th hour. It was reported that the candidate was ruled to fall foul of the provision that no candidate should, ‘hold an office of profit under the Crown’. I am paraphrasing the actual provision (in the Constitution?) but that person was the beneficiary of some funding from the Commonwealth under some scheme and ineligible, hence no candidate.
      I think certainly in 2019, the Nats would have run a candidate simply to collect the taxpayer funding for each primary vote and use that toward funding state campaign efforts where they fancied they had a chance.

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