Perth by-election, 2018

Cause of by-election
Sitting Labor MP Tim Hammond resigned from parliament on May 10, 2018.

Margin ALP 3.3%

Central and northeastern Perth. The seat covers the Perth CBD, which is in the southwestern corner of the seat. Perth runs along the northern shore of the Swan river, to the east of the Perth CBD. Other suburbs include Maylands, Mount Lawley, Bayswater, Ashfield, Bedford, Morley and Mount Hawthorn.

Perth is an original federation seat. It was dominated by conservative parties until the 1940s, and became a marginal seat until the early 1980s. It has been held by the ALP ever since 1983.

Perth was first won in 1901 by the ALP’s James Fowler. Fowler was a fierce opponent of Billy Hughes within the party, and he switched to the new Liberal Party in 1909. He joined the new Nationalist Party in 1916, but his conflict with Hughes made this difficult. He lost Nationalist endorsement before the 1922 election, and lost Perth.

Nationalist candidate Edward Mann won Perth in 1922. He was re-elected in 1925 and 1928, but in 1929 was one of a number of Nationalist MPs led by Billy Hughes to rebel against the Bruce government and lead to the government’s downfall. Mann lost Perth as an independent in 1929.

Perth was won in 1929 by Nationalist candidate Walter Nairn. Nairn became a United Australia Party member in 1931, and held the seat for the next decade. He served as Speaker from 1940 to 1943, and retired at the 1943 election.

The ALP’s Tom Burke won Perth in 1943. He held the seat for the next twelve years, until 1955, when he lost Perth to the Liberal Party’s Fred Chaney. Burke was expelled from the ALP in 1957, although he later rejoined the party. His sons Terry Burke and Brian Burke were both later elected to the Western Australian state parliament, and Brian went on to become Premier.

Chaney held Perth for the next fourteen years. He served in Robert Menzies’ ministry from 1964 to 1966, but was dropped from the frontbench when Harold Holt became Prime Minister in 1966. He lost Perth in 1969. He went on to serve as Administrator of the Northern Territory and Lord Mayor of Perth.

Perth was won in 1969 by the ALP’s Joe Berinson. He was re-elected in 1972 and 1974, and in July 1975 was appointed Minister for the Environment in the Whitlam government. He lost his seat at the 1975 election. He went on to serve in the Western Australian state parliament and as a minister in a number of state Labor governments.

The Liberal Party’s Ross McLean won Perth in 1975, and held the seat as a backbencher for the entirety of the Fraser government, losing the seat in 1983.

Perth was won in 1983 by the ALP’s Ric Charlesworth. Charlesworth had been caption of the Australian men’s field hockey team, and represented Australia at five Olympics in the 1970s and 1980s. He captained the team at two Olympics while he held the seat of Perth. Charlesworth also played Sheffield Shield cricket for Western Australia in the 1970s.

Charlesworth held Perth for ten years, retiring in 1993 at the age of 41. He was replaced by Stephen Smith, former Keating advisor and State Secretary of the ALP in WA.

Smith was promoted to the Labor frontbench after the 1996 election, and served as a shadow minister in a variety of portfolios until 2007. Smith served as Foreign Minister in the first term of the last Labor government, and as Defence Minister in the second term, before retiring at the 2013 federal election.

In 2013, Perth was won by Labor’s Alannah MacTiernan. MacTiernan had been a state MP from 1993 to 2010, and a minister in the Gallop/Carpenter state Labor government. She had resigned from state Parliament in 2010 to unsuccessfully contest the federal seat of Canning. After that loss, she had served as Mayor of Vincent from 2011 until her election to federal Parliament in 2013.


  • Julie Matheson
  • Nicole Arielli (Animal Justice)
  • Jim Grayden (Independent)
  • Wesley Du Preez (Liberal Democrats)
  • Colin Scott (Sustainable Australia)
  • Ben Mullings (Mental Health)
  • Patrick Gorman (Labor)
  • Gabriel Harfouche (People’s Party)
  • Paul Collins (Independent)
  • Caroline Perks (Greens)
  • Aaron Hammond (Science Party)
  • Ellen Joubert (Australian Christians)
  • Tony Robinson (Liberty Alliance)
  • Ian Britza (Independent)
  • Barry Mason (Citizens Electoral Council)

Perth is a marginal seat but Labor is likely to hold on.

2016 result

Jeremy Quinn Liberal 35,38142.3+0.2
Tim Hammond Labor 31,24837.4-1.0
Tim Clifford Greens 14,27217.1+5.1
Mark Robert WalmsleyLiberal Democrats1,4301.7+1.7
Andrew David ChambersOnline Direct Democracy1,3001.6+1.6

2016 two-party-preferred result

Tim Hammond Labor 44,60253.3+1.2
Jeremy Quinn Liberal 39,02946.7-1.2

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into three parts:

  • Central – Bayswater, Inglewood and Maylands
  • North-East – Bassendean, Morley and Noranda
  • West – Mount Hawthorn, Mount Lawley, North Perth, Perth, West Perth

Labor won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all three areas, ranging from 50.9% in the west to 57.8% in the centre.

The Greens primary vote was 12% in the north-east and around 19.5% in the other two areas.

Voter groupGRN prim %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes17.351.413,98516.7

Election results in Perth at the 2016 federal election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and Greens primary votes.

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  1. Safe Labor hold, Tim Hammond has become a very popular member and such the seat should remain labor, even if the greens can come in the seccond place

  2. The only point of interest here will be where the Greens vote goes. It is difficult to see how this won’t be hollowed out by Labor to a great extent. As i recall the Greens vote declined in 2016, so this was a counter trend result.

    Doug Jackson. What has Hammond done to make himself popular ? Is he ministerial material ?

  3. Tim Hammond has been very present, often attending local events and such is seen as a local MP, his profile is probably the highest of all the labor MP’s from WA. The Labor party sees this as he is in the only MP from WA to be in the Shadow Ministry.

  4. Can’t see the Greens coming second here any time soon – the Liberal vote in East Perth, Mount Lawley, Noranda and Mount Hawthorn to name four is too high, plus the Greens still need to up their numbers in the areas further away from the river.

    Easy hold for Labor come next election.

  5. A high concentration of nonsense in this comment section.

    Doug Jackson if the Greens come 2nd in a seats like this (see also Prahran, Ballina, Maiwar, Macnamara, Higgins, Brisbane) Labor can never win. It would go to 2PP Liberal versus Green! Liberal vote has to be below 33.3% for an electorate to have a Labor versus Greens runoff.

    winediamond I don’t know where you got the idea that 2016 was a swing against the Greens. Nationally they were 10.23 (+1.58) in the HoR. The swing was concentrated in inner city seats like Perth.

    To come 2nd in Perth the Greens would need to shift ~9,000 Labor votes which seems unlikely in 1 election cycle, but it does look like their best prospect in WA (Swan close behind).

  6. Greens probably need another redistribution where areas of Curtin are transferred in to Perth for them to really have a shot here. Areas to the north east of the electorate are too working class. Maylands, Bayswater, Bassendean and Mount Lawley are all becoming more desirable to young people which should continue the trend of increasing green votes in that region.

    Possibly a seat like Perth or Swan could be competitive for greens if Scott Ludlam decided to have a go, but Tim Hammond has done a pretty good job building his profile in this electorate.

    I would suspect the margin will become larger for Labor this election.

  7. maps are slightly off around the Crawley area, the apartments and colleges between Mounts Bay Rd and Park Av should be in Curtin.

  8. I would’ve thought a seat like Fremantle would be a far better prospect for the Greens, although that being said their vote is highly concentrated in one particular area of that electorate whereas Perth has a much more even spread,
    The Greens best prospect outside of the Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane based electorates would probably be Clark (nee Denison) after Wilkie steps away.

  9. The Greens problem in Fremantle is that the two majors are both too strong to overtake. They couldn’t even overtake Liberals in the state seat last year.

    A seat like Perth may eventually allow the Greens to overtake Labor on primaries but not this time, and it would be bad optics for Greens to try and win seats off Labor (except maybe Labor right MPs in Macnamara, Richmond and Wills). Greens would do well to target Brisbane as their top priority.

  10. Tim Hammond has announced his resignation. It’s unclear whether that will be immediate or at the forthcoming election. If the latter, it will be the third election in a row where the member for Perth is retiring.

  11. Now going to be a by-election in Perth due to the surprise resignation of Tim Hammond. Presume it would be a Labor hold but you never know.

  12. Unless there’s some scandal or ulterior motive for Hammond’s resignation, then I doubt the Liberals would even bother running. If it genuinely is that Hammond is simply a devoted dad who can’t bear to be apart from his family, then there’s nothing for the Liberals to latch onto.

    Maybe the Greens could do well if the Liberal-voting areas chose to vote Green just to hurt Labor. But the general sentiment seems to be sympathetic, so all things being equal I can’t see Labor losing here.

  13. Perth is a marginal enough seat that I’d be very surprised if the Liberals didn’t stand in the by-election. Should they stand it will be an interesting test of Labor’s support in WA and the extent of any swing away from the government.

  14. I expect the call as to whether the Liberals put up a candidate will be made by the party hierarchy in WA. That opens up all sorts of Machiavellian motives that could impact the decision.

    I don’t think the seat can be won, so the question is: do you want to expose the government to the most literal of polls? Could a bad result put an end to Turnbull? If so, is that a reason not to run, or the opposite?

  15. I agree – as a Liberal voter/supporter (for the past decade) Turnbull needs to go! Labor will hold this unless something goes incredibly wrong though.

  16. Mark Mulcair
    Agreed. It is difficult to see any advantage in the Libs putting forward a candidate.

  17. I would think that if the Libs choose not to run a candidate at this by-election then it gives Liberal voters a chance to break that voting habit possibly harming their chances of winning Perth at future elections.

    Also none of the Labor names mentioned so far are seen to be star candidates in a seat with a history of high-profile members. If Labor has a poor campaign the Liberals are a chance of winning Perth.

  18. Malcolm
    i don’t think you are putting enough store in the increasing volatility of the centre vote. How can anyone “forget” how to vote liberal ?. There just isn’t that kind of “voting habit’ anymore.
    Now if we didn’t have compulsory voting…..

  19. I suspect Labor will look at the budget to judge whether a general election is imminent or if the Liberals are going to hold on for as long as possible. Labor would be stupid to force a by-election if an election is coming in a matter of months.

  20. The Libs would be crazy not to run a candidate. Shorten and the ALP are on the nose here because they refuse to countenance any change to the GST distribution formula. Radio talkback is full of people rejecting handouts and top ups. And hardly a day goes by without the newspapers being full of it. It is the standout issue in Perth at the moment.

  21. Maurice
    If GST formula is such a big issue, why is there such a lack of noise from all WA pollies, of all persuasions ? Surely they must be aware of talkback radio ?

  22. With no Liberal candidate, I wouldn’t be surprised if a conservative independent ran and hoovered up their votes. The north of this seat isn’t that Green friendly, and 42% of the vote has to go somewhere…

  23. Liberal voters, especially urban ones, aren’t opposed to voting Green as long as there’s no how to vote card directing them to put Labor higher, and the Liberals message is more anti-Labor than anything else.

    Labor are still easily on top and likely will be putting all their resources into Darling Range (if they run) or Fremantle (if the Greens select a heavy hitter like Ludlam). They may even fly them all to Brisbane to help in Longman – I remember quite a few volunteers for both majors from WA in Bennelong.

    I’m therefore anticipating a colossally large swing to the Greens although Labor will likely still win here. Something like 57-43 Labor vs Green

  24. Really strange decision that the Liberals haven’t decided to run in Perth. While it is a Labor leaning seat it should be seen as winnable but this decision not to run makes it look like they’ve given up on it long term. It seems that their internal polling for WA is poor and they don’t want this exposed at a by election.

    Labor will easily win here, without the Libs running the Greens should make the final 2PP and pick up some homeless Liberal voters, or at least their preferences, but it’s not likely to be close.

  25. I don’t think the Liberals want anyone getting a read on how well they’re doing in WA as a bad result in Perth could imply that they’re on track to lose a handful of WA marginals. They’re trying to set up a narrative of success for the night to ward off the stench of death around the government and show they’re capable of winning the next election. Mayo, Longman and Braddon are real chances (in descending order of likelihood) but Perth never was, at least not with the kind of resources WA Liberals would be willing to throw at it.

  26. Not to mention the WA Liberals are on a mission to make Darling Range blue again. As for Perth, if it didn’t go blue in 1996, 2004 or 2013, it’s not going blue now.

  27. I agree that the Liberals probably aren’t running in Perth because they don’t want to highlight the swing against them in WA, but I’m not sure it’s a great idea avoiding both WA by-elections. They’re basically giving Labor an open platform to give their election pitch to Perth voters (including a bunch of marginal seats the Liberals could lose at the next election). Plus it probably reinforces the idea that the federal government tends to ignore WA.

  28. John
    You have presented several reasons for the Libs not to stand. I’d suggest that the simplest one is right. The Libs have no chance.

    Unfortunately most Lib voters will not vote strategically. Voting in a Green MP would hurt Labor a lot. Iv’e always taken the view that the more Green MPs the better, so as to educate the voting public about just how much of a menace they truly are.

    The more they are seen, the less they will be liked, & the faster they are consigned to irrelevance

  29. Anton Kreitzer
    Quite so. 2013 was the best chance for the Libs.

    It appears from the latest Newspoll that Turnbull’s popularity has soared. It looks like we are stuck with him. If you walk long enough with a cripple , you will end up with a limp. It will be interesting too, if BS’s sudden fall is the start of a trend.

  30. Greens are running with previous Maylands candidate Caroline Perks, without someone more high profile I can’t imagine they will win, even against Patrick Gorman who isn’t exactly an inspiring candidate.

  31. Seen on the news that the Western Australia Party wants to run a candidate. Looking through they seem to be a centrist party very NXT like. Could they poll well in the Liberal areas?

  32. I’m sure the WA Party will mop up a few Liberal voters, especially if LDP, AC, ON and S&F opt out.

    I don’t live in Perth (I’m in Cowan), but have a few friends in this seat, all bar one are Labor/Green voters. The other happens to be a Liberal.

  33. Is this the best forum to discuss the issues important to people living in the electorate of Perth?

    I’m just wondering why no one here cares about unemployment? and why no one is talking about a federal job guarantee?

  34. Caroline Perks (Greens candidate) got a 5% swing towards her when she ran in Maylands in an election where the Greens were largely irrelevant. I wouldn’t write her off.

  35. Edwin

    “Is this the best forum to discuss the issues important to people living in the electorate of Perth?”

    Likely no. This website is more about the mechanisms of democratic elections than the aims of government policies.

    Personally I would support moving towards something like a job guarantee though, it certainly seems like it worked from 1945-75.

  36. Thank for replying Bennee,

    I am interested in starting a dialogue with people who live in the Perth electorate. So if anyone has a link to a facebook page or a forum where I can talk about the job guarantee directly with people that would be appreciated because currently a JG isn’t on the radar and no one is publicly demanding one other than GetUp!.

  37. Edwin
    Who would actually provide the jobs (guaranteed) ?. Why don’t they already exist ? Have you thought of any other alternatives ? I have

  38. winediamond, thank you for responding.

    The federal government would guarantee jobs as for why these jobs don’t already exist? That’s because there isn’t a federal policy in place to ensure these jobs. It’s interesting that community organisations are dependent on people who gamble on the lottery so that lotterieswest can make donations but we can’t fund them federally?

  39. winediamond

    Job guarantee policies aren’t currently in use because Neoliberal economists told governments around the world to cancel them (apparently targeting ~5% unemployment was going to be better). Around the ’70s most Anglosphere countries followed this advice, before that many countries had extremely low unemployment rates (below 2% in the case of Australia).

    Since then median wages have horribly lagged behind increasing productivity of labour and profitability of business, I’d say because it’s really easy for an employer to low-ball a worker when 5% of the population is desperate for there job.

  40. Jim Grayden is running as an Independent Liberal. His family has a long history in WA politics.

  41. The Brits won at Rorke’s Drift but it is as a close shave. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

  42. The Libs, Labor and Greens don’t mention GST because they rely on WA’s GST to pork-barrel the eastern states. Shorten, Turnbull or Di Natale – they will never tell NSW, VIC or QLD that they are going to cut GST to their states because that is where the majority of the seats are. WA is not on their radar because of the small number of seats compared to the east coast. That is why the only candidate who can genuinely push for GST reform is an Independent who relies on the voters for support instead of factional power brokers. No Labor, Greens or Liberal member is going to stand up in parliament and call for a to cut in GST to NSW, VIC or QLD.

  43. Jim
    It is far simpler to advocate for the abolition of the Commonwealth Equalisation Commission. EVERY State would then get back all of it’s GST.
    Understandably SA, TAS, NT, & ACT would be very upset with this. TOUGH !!!. The issue is as much about how the GST rip off, allows these bludgers to luxuriate in self indulgent waste, as it is the opportunity cost to WA. Perhaps this would be a more powerful position to take, than taking on the 3 main eastern states ?. This issue can be argued both ways.

    Everything you have said is true, & all strength to your arm.

  44. Hey Jim, I’d be interested in knowing if you are planning to preference Greens, Labor or are you running an open ticket?

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