Agricultural – WA 2013

Incumbent MLCs

  • Matt Bensom-Lidholm (Labor), since 2009.
  • Jim Chown (Liberal), since 2009.
  • Mia Davies (Nationals), since 2009.
  • Brian Ellis (Liberal), since 2007.
  • Philip Gardiner (Nationals), since 2009.
  • Max Trenorden (Nationals), since 2009. Previously Member for Avon 1986-2008.

Agricultural region covers areas to the north and east of Perth, stretching from Geraldton to Mount Barker.

The region covers the districts of Central Wheatbelt, Geraldton, Moore and Wagin. The Nationals hold three of these seats, while the Liberal Party holds Geraldton. Moore is the only marginal seat in the area: the Nationals hold it by 3.1% over the Liberal Party.

Agricultural was created at the 1989 election as a five-member electorate. The region has always been the strongest for the Nationals.

At the 1989 election, 1993 election and 1996 election, the Nationals and Liberals each won two seats, with Labor only taking one.

In 2001, the Nationals were hurt by One Nation. The Nationals and Liberals each lost a seat, with those seats going to One Nation and the Greens. This resulted in the five seats going to five different parties, and is the only time a Green has ever won in Agricultural. The seat was won by former Greens Senator Dee Margetts.

In 2005, the Liberals won three seats, with the Nationals still only holding one.

In 2008, Agricultural become a six-member electorate. Former Nationals leader Max Trenorden’s seat of Avon was abolished, and he moved to the Legislative Council. The Nationals ticket won three seats, with the Liberals winning two and Labor winning one.

2008 result

Group Votes % Quota
The Nationals 24,420 33.39 2.3409
Liberal 23,830 32.59 2.2843
Labor 15,772 21.57 1.5119
The Greens 3,721 5.09 0.3567
Family First 2,080 2.84 0.1994
Christian Democratic Party 1,692 2.31 0.1622
Others 1,507 2.06 0.1445

The Nationals and Liberal Party each won two seats on primary votes, and the ALP won one seat.

No party came close to winning the last seat on primary votes – the ALP was closest on 51.2% of a quota. However a majority of the vote in the race leant to the right-of-centre, suggesting the seat would fall to a conservative candidate.

  • West (ALP) – 0.5122 quotas
  • Margetts (GRN) – 0.3617
  • Davies (NAT) – 0.3446
  • Wilkins (LIB) – 0.2998
  • Fels (FF) – 0.2614
  • Forsyth (CDP) – 0.2144

Despite the ALP and Greens leading in the race, they only held 87% of a quota between them, while the four conservative candidates held a full quota.

Christian Democratic preferences pushed Family First into the lead amongst the conservative candidates:

  • West – 0.5128
  • Fels – 0.4641
  • Margetts – 0.3638
  • Davies – 0.3519
  • Wilkins – 0.3015

Only with the elimination of the Liberal candidate did the Nationals candidate take the lead:

  • Davies – 0.6376
  • West – 0.5177
  • Fels – 0.4719
  • Margetts – 0.3663

The elimination of the Greens candidate again pushed Labor ahead – but the Nationals and Family First held a quota between them:

  • West – 0.8551
  • Davies – 0.6563
  • Fels – 0.4817

With the elimination of Fels, most of his preferences were distributed, and overwhelmingly favoured Davies:

  • Davies – 1.0637
  • West – 0.8600
  • Fels – 0.0695

Assuming that most of the votes that weren’t distributed would have favoured the Nationals, this gives the Nationals 1.13 quotas to 0.86 for Labor – a lead of 0.27 quota, or 2.9%. This means a swing of 1.45% from the right to the left would have given a second seat to a candidate of the left instead of the Nationals.


  • Labor
    1. Darren West
    2. Matt Benson-Lidholm
    3. Judy Riggs
    4. Sheila Mills
    5. Bob Somerville
    6. Graeme McBeath
  • Family First
    1. Peter Custers
    2. Steven Fuhrmann
  • Max Trenorden
    1. Max Trenorden
    2. Philip Gardiner
    3. Bill Cowan
    4. Robert Kestel
    5. Lindsay Tuckwell
  • Anthony Fels
    1. Anthony Fels
    2. Felly Chandra
  • Shooters and Fishers
    1. Rick Mazza
    2. Ray Hull
  • Australian Christians
    1. Trevor Young
    2. Lachlan Dunjey
  • Peter Swift
    1. Peter Swift
    2. Rod Davis
  • Anne-Marie Copeland
    1. Anne-Marie Copeland
    2. Ian James
    3. Darrell Boase
  • The Nationals
    1. Martin Aldridge
    2. Paul Brown
    3. Jill Sounness
    4. Cathie Bowen
    5. Rosalba Butterworth
  • Liberal
    1. Jim Chown
    2. Brian Ellis
    3. Steven Martin
    4. Alan McFarland
    5. Sarah Panizza
    6. James McLagan
  • The Greens
    1. Andy Huntley
    2. Sarah Nielsen-Harvey
  • Osama Rifai
    1. Osama Rifai
    2. Yaebiyo Girmay Araya
  • Tony Bozich
  • Gregory Kenney

The race in Agricultural contains a lot more independents than in other regions, but I’m going to focus on the major parties, the Greens, the Nationals, the three right-wing minors who are running across the state, and the ticket led by former Nationals leader Max Trenorden.

Labor and the Greens are both preferencing the Trenorden/Gardiner ticket above the Nationals.

Controversially, the Greens are preferencing the Shooters and Fishers in a position that may favour them. The lead Shooters and Fishers candidate is preferenced behind the lead Labor, Liberal and Nationals candidates, but ahead of the second major party candidates who will be in the race.

The Australian Christians are practically flowing to the Liberal Party, then Trenorden, then the Nationals.

Family First and the Shooters have both put Gardiner (Trenorden’s running mate and fellow sitting MLC) first, but have placed Trenorden behind the key Liberals and Nationals, effectively not giving him preferences. Family First have favoured the Liberal Party; the Shooters have favoured the Nationals.

Every major group except for Labor has put the Greens last.

The race in Agricultural will come down to the fifth conservative seat. The Nationals and Liberal Party will definitely win two seats each and Labor will win one.

The Nationals are performing strongly, but they were very fortunate to win three seats on much less than three quotas in 2008. With competition from the Liberal Party, the Shooters and their former leader Max Trenorden, it is hard to say who will win the last seat.


  1. That bizarre rainbow effect in 2001 (one seat each for five different parties) wouldn’t’ve happened if not for One Nation’s preferences. They got well over a quota (under the old 5-member system!), not quite enough to get their second candidate in, and they’d preferenced all major parties last, so half of Dee Margetts’ votes came from them. (One Nation made that election quite weird.) The Greens were insanely lucky, and it will probably never happen again.

    I reckon Trenorden will get the last seat here – the Tier 3 rail closures are a big deal in the wheatbelt, and the Nats having a completely new list would have to hurt them. Labor could surely do better than 1 out of 6 someday, but my guess is 2 Nat, 2 Lib, 1 ALP, 1 Trenorden.

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