Darling Range by-election, 2018

May 23, 2018

Cause of by-election
Sitting Labor MP Barry Urban is expected to resign from parliament due to a scandal surrounding his use of unearned police medals.

Margin ALP 5.8%

Eastern Perth. Darling Range is the outermost seat on the eastern edge of Perth, covering outer parts of Armadale, Kalamunda, Serpentine-Jarrahdale, Mundaring, Kwinana and Rockingham council areas.

The seat covers Pickering Brook, Karragullen, Roleystone, Bedfordale, Harrisdale, Byford, Darling Downs, Oakford, Mundijong, Serpentine, Jarrahdale, Malmalling and parts of Kelmscott and Mount Richon.

The seat of Darling Range has existed since 1950, with the exception of a single term in the 1970s when it was briefly abolished. The seat was originally a Country Party seat but has been won by the Liberal Party at every election since 1962.

Ray Owen held the seat for the Country Party from 1950 to 1962, followed by Liberal MP Kenn Dunn until 1971.

In 1971, the Liberal Party’s Ian Thompson won the seat. In 1974, the seat was renamed Kalamunda, and Thompson moved to that seat. He stayed in that seat until it was abolished in 1989, despite Darling Range being restored in 1977.

George Spriggs won Darling Range in 1977, and was followed by Bob Greig in 1987.

In 1989, the seat of Kalamunda was abolished and Ian Thompson returned to Darling Range. He was re-elected, but in 1990 he resigned from the Liberal Party to sit as an independent, and retired in 1993.

John Day won Darling Range in 1993. He held the seat for the next fifteen years. In 2008, the redistribution moved much of Darling Range back into the restored seat of Kalamunda while a large part of the abolished seat of Serpentine-Jarrahdale was moved into Darling Range.

Day moved to Kalamunda, and Tony Simpson, who had won Serpentine-Jarrahdale in 2005, moved to Darling Range. Day became a minister in the Liberal/National government after the 2008 election, while Simpson became a minister after the 2013 election.

Simpson lost in 2017 to Labor candidate Barry Urban. Later that year Urban resigned from the ALP after it emerged that he had been wearing a medal for overseas police service which he had not been awarded. Urban resigned from parliament in 2018.


  • Russell Goodrick (Western Australia Party)
  • Anthony Pyle (Greens)
  • Jehni Thomas-Wurth (Animal Justice)
  • Alyssa Hayden (Liberal)
  • John Watt (Fluoride Free WA)
  • Rod Caddies (One Nation)
  • Tania Lawrence (Labor)
  • Eric Eikelboom (Australian Christians)
  • Stuart Ostle (Shooters, Fishers & Farmers)
  • Doug Shaw (Independent)
  • George O’Byrne (Independent)

Barry Urban won this seat with a large swing in 2017. Considering the circumstances of Urban’s departure, and Labor’s role in government, it seems quite plausible that the Liberal Party could regain Darling Range.

2017 result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Barry Urban Labor 11,012 41.5 +12.5
Tony Simpson Liberal 8,056 30.4 -25.2
Sharon Polgar One Nation 2,313 8.7 +8.7
Iwan Boskamp Greens 2,033 7.7 -1.8
Derek Bruning Australian Christians 1,174 4.4 -0.5
Stuart Ostle Shooters, Fishers, Farmers 1,123 4.2 +4.2
Craig Ballinger Micro Business 317 1.2 +1.2
Chris Barker Flux the System 194 0.7 +0.7
Jake McCoull Liberal Democrats 163 0.6 +0.6
Manamal Froumis Independent 134 0.5 +0.5
Informal 1,357 4.9

2017 two-party-preferred result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Barry Urban Labor 14,788 55.8 +18.9
Tony Simpson Liberal 11,712 44.2 -18.9

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into three parts: central, north and south.

Labor won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in the centre (56.1%) and the south (56.3%). The Liberal Party polled 50.6% in the north.

One Nation came third, with a primary vote ranging from 6.5% in the north to 8.3% in the south.

Voter group ON % ALP 2PP % Total votes % of votes
South 8.3 56.3 10,290 38.8
Central 6.9 56.1 6,365 24.0
North 6.5 49.4 910 3.4
Other votes 10.6 55.8 5,626 21.2
Pre-Poll 11.1 58.0 3,328 12.5

Two-party-preferred votes in Darling Range at the 2017 WA state election

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  1. You’d think the Liberals would be hot favourites here, given the circumstances and the fact that it’s a natural Lib-leaning seat.

    Barry Urban seems to be one of those accidental MPs that don’t get as much scrutiny from party HQ because they’re supposed to be in an “unwinnable” seat.

  2. This will be an interesting indicator as to whether WA’s wrath at the Libs has abated at all. I’m guessing not much.

  3. interesting don’t think ALP support has changed since the last election….
    but…..this is natural Liberal party territory
    and…… is sort of an own goal for Labor

  4. The swing in Darling Range was massive – 19% IIRC. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bit of a swing back – but whether it’s the near 6% required will be interesting.

    The ALP would want a good candidate though to make up for Urban being quite a bit of a dick.

  5. Rumour is that the ALP won’t run a candidate. To avoid the inevitable loss of the electorate and instead focus their resources on Perth.

  6. It would be pretty extraordinary if Labor didn’t run. When was the last time a party didn’t run in a seat it actually held?

    Even NSW Labor in their dying days ran candidates in Ryde and Penrith when they knew they were going to be hammered.

  7. Contrary to reports stating otherwise, Mark McGowan has said Labor will be contesting the by-election.

    And so they should. There’s healthy buffer of 5.8%!

    Certainly a few things count against Labor: the typical anti-govt nature of by-elections; the conservative history of the seat; a potential backlash against the ludicrous Barry Urban.

    On the other hand, the Liberals have to contend with the loss of Tony Simpson’s vote (he’s not running) and fighting a government still in its infancy.

    I think the Libs are favourites, but this ought to be very competitive.

  8. @Mark Mulcair
    The Liberal party didn’t run in the Newcastle and Charlestown by-elections in 2014 caused by illegal donations from property developers to their candidates.
    They probably didn’t run knowing they would have just lost them at the state election the following year.

    As for Urban, he is obviously just an accidental MP elected in an electorate no one in Labor ever thought they’d win, it’s probable Labor needed a candidate in that seat and he was the only person to put his hand up.

    As for the race, I confess I don’t know much, but in a conservative leaning electorate caught at the top end of a swing it’s probable that the Libs could win but a Labor government still in its honeymoon period could still be in a position to retain.
    The result will be lineball although I’d ever so slightly lean towards Labor.

  9. It was more complicated than “a scandal surrounding his use of unearned police medals”. That was the start of it, but he also fraudulently claimed a university degree and several other qualifications, then lied about it to parliament and the media, doubled down on the lies, and finally tried to pass off a blatantly forgery (which was clearly made using Microsoft Word) to the privileges committee.

    The committee investigating him recommended he be expelled from parliament, which would have been the first time in WA history that that had happened. (It happened once federally, but I’m not sure it’s happened at state level anywhere else).

  10. @L96 I think Labor’s honeymoon period has well and truly come to an end. It’s been more than a year now and the media is treating them like any other government. It’s *possible* they could hold on, but the Libs would be the overwhelming favourites to win it back, as long as they pick a reasonable candidate. One thing to note is that Darling Range is semi-rural, and the government copped a fair bit of heat for the way it handled cuts to country schools. Another thing that could be in Labor’s favour however is their creation of a rural fire service – Darling Range is prime bushfire country.

  11. The Western Australia Party has said they are likely to run a candidate. They got 9% in the Cottesloe by-election. They could potentially come second in the by-election by taking Labor votes (if they don’t run) because the Greens are not very popular in this electorate.

  12. The Liberal Party preselection battle is between former Upper House MP (and factional favourite to win) Alyssa Hayden and former Thornlie candidate, Rob Coales.

  13. would expect probable lib win but with a 2 term alp govt maybe the voters want a voice in govt

  14. Im expecting a LIB regain, especially following recent doubts about the ALPs candidates education and CV credibility.

  15. That ‘lie’ is so massively overblown. So her personal linkedin, when she wasn’t a candidate, said she had an MBA when she’s actually well on her way to getting one but isn’t there yet. She then took it down when she was preselected. Jeez.

  16. In 2008 John Day did not ‘move’ to Kalamunda and Tony Simpson did not ‘move’ to Darling Range. Simpson’s seat of Serpentine-Jarrahdale was renamed as Darling Range because of the transfer of some smaller rural boxes into the seat. Day’s seat of Kalamunda contained the traditional core of Darling Range.
    The renamed Darling Range had not been a safe Liberal seat for 25 years and in 2008 had a 51% notional ALP majority. Under its previous names of Dale and Roleystone there were several close results and a Labor win in 2001.
    Winning a seat like Darling Range, with extensive outer suburban growth, was a far from impossible task for the ALP in a good climate. The Liberal Party does not expect to walk into such a seat in a by-election.
    There is no excuse that Barry Urban was an ‘accidental’ candidate scoring an unforeseen win. He had run in the 2013 election for the ALP and there was plenty of time for adequate scrutiny.

  17. Nominations closed today, a total of 11 candidates!

    In ballot paper order;

    Russell Goodrick – Western Australia Party
    Anthony Pyle – Greens
    Jehni Thomas-Wurth – Animal Justice
    Alyssa Hayden – Liberal
    John Watt – Fluoride Free WA
    Rod Caddies – One Nation
    Tania Lawrence – Labor
    Eric Eikelboom – Christians
    Stuart Ostle – Shooters, Fishers and Farmers
    Doug Shaw – Independent (ex. One Nation state president)
    George O’Byrne – Independent

  18. OMG Russell Goodrick is running! He was one of the biggest television personalities in WA during the 80’s and 90’s.

  19. I think this is likely a contest between Labor and the liberal party. With Alyssa Hayden favourite to win, however, I wouldn’t count out Russell Goodrick. He has drawn 1st on the ballot paper, is a well-known name, will get all the minor party preferences, and is running on the GST issue. Could make a large dent in the vote.

  20. I agree Phil, I think Russell Goodrick could poll double digits from a combination of celebrity (although younger voters might not know him) and voter disillusionment. The WA Party polled 9% in the Cottesloe by-election with a virtually unknown candidate. If Goodrick actually does a proper campaign and gets favourable preferences (according to the ABC his party is negotiating with others http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-04/where-will-preferences-go-in-darling-range-by-election/9832720), then he could leapfrog Labor into second and make things interesting. Liberals would still be the overwhelming favourites.

  21. Drove through this electorate today, saw 2 parked trailers in support of Labor and half a dozen Liberal posts.

  22. Candidate debate tonight held by the Australian Christian Lobby.

    Only 6/11 Candidates attended.
    Alyssa Hayden – Liberal
    Tania Lawrence – Labor
    Rod Caddies – One Nation
    Stuart Ostle – Shooters, Fishers and Farmers
    Eric Eikelboom – Christians
    John Watt – Fluoride Free WA
    Additionally, Julie Matheson leader of the WA Party was there as a replacement for Russell Goodrick who could not attend as it was his birthday and his family booked a surprise party for him haha.

    Alyssa Hayden was the clear winner of the debate, her parliamentary experience was very clear. Tania Lawrence was sick and thus didn’t speak well. Both Julie Matheson and Rod Caddies spoke well and was well received by the crowd. Stuart Ostle was ok. John Watt was off in the “Fairy Land” and Eric Eikelboom did not speak well and was clearly very nervous.

  23. The Poll seems far to small. I would expect there to be a result more akine to.
    Labor – 37%
    Liberal – 33%
    One Nation – 11%
    Western Australia Party – 9%
    Greens – 5%
    Others – 5%

    I am at this stage still predicting a narrow victory for the Liberals.

    Should also note that there has been a very large campaign by the #PutLaborLast group and such I don’t think that Tania Lawrence would gain a lot of preferences as they have been everywhere.

  24. Not sure about those numbers for Western Australia Party, I am willing to believe the poll in that their vote will be closer to 5% rather than 9%. They only got 9% in Cottesloe when Labor wasn’t running. With both parties in full campaigning mode I expect third party votes will be depressed.

    The One Nation vote seems excessive at 9%, how they have persuaded more voters after the amount of defections recently is beyond me. I guess its pretty natural territory for One Nation as far as WA goes.

    I drove through the electorate this weekend and saw plenty of material lining the streets from WAP, Lab, and Libs. Also a lone Christians poster. Couldn’t find anything for one nation or the greens but perhaps it was more hidden.

  25. It’s apparent now that the Liberals will regain the seat with a larger than expected swing of about 8-15%, I’m shocked, I only saw +5% at max.


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