Pilbara – WA 2013

ALP 7.2%

Incumbent MP
Tom Stephens, since 2008. Previously Member for Central Kimberley-Pilbara 2005-2008.

 

Map of Pilbara’s 2008 and 2013 boundaries. 2008 boundaries appear as red line, 2013 boundaries appear as white area. Click to enlarge.

Geography
Northern Western Australia. Pilbara covers East Pilbara, Port Hedland and Roebourne council areas.

The major centres are Port Hedland, Dampier and Roebourne.

While the seat stretches from the coast to the Northern Territory border, almost the entire population lies in the eastern half of the electorate.

Redistribution
Pilbara’s boundary with North West Central was reshuffled, gaining the Shire of Roebourne and losing the balance of the Shire of Ashburton. The seat also lost a sparsely populated part of the Gibson Desert to Kalgoorlie. The ALP’s margin was increased from 3.6% to 7.2%.

History
Pilbara existed as a seat continuously from 1894 until 2005. For one term the seat was renamed as Central Kimberley-Pilbara before reverting to its original name in 2008. The seat has been dominated by the ALP for most of the twentieth century.

The ALP held Pilbara continuously from 1939 to 1974. Brian Sodeman won the seat as a Liberal in 1974, and held it until 1983.

In 1983, Pam Buchanan won the seat back for Labor. She moved to a new seat of Ashburton in 1989, and was replaced in Pilbara by Larry Graham.

Graham was re-elected in 1993 and 1996 for the ALP, but was defeated for preselection in 1999 and resigned to serve as an independent. He was re-elected as an independent with over 50% of the primary vote in 2001.

Graham retired in 2005, and the ALP’s Tom Stephens won the seat back.

In 2008, Stephens was re-elected with a smaller margin. Traditionally the conservative option in Pilbara was the Liberal Party, but in 2008 the Nationals ran and outpolled the Liberal Party.

Candidates
Sitting Labor MP Tom Stephens is not running for re-election. The Nationals leader, Brendon Grylls, is moving from his safe seat of Central Wheatbelt to run in Pilbara.

The Labor candidate, Kelly Howlett, has served as Mayor of Port Hedland since 2009 and ran as the Greens candidate in 2005 and 2008.

Assessment
Normally the ALP would be considered the favourite in a seat held by a 7.2% margin. However the loss of Stephens’ personal vote, combined with the high-profile candidacy of Nationals leader Brendon Grylls, change the dynamics in this seat. The Nationals have made this seat a high priority, and will be likely to win.

2008 result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Tom StephensALP3,33644.4-4.4
Alan CochraneNAT1,72422.9+22.9
Rosie VrancicLIB1,32117.6-14.2
Kelly HowlettGRN7249.6+0.3
Joan FoleyFF4125.5+5.5

2008 two-candidate-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%Swing
Tom StephensALP4,02453.6
Alan CochraneNAT3,49046.4

 

 

Polling booths in Pilbara at the 2008 WA state election. East Pilbara in blue, Port Hedland in green, Roebourne in orange.

Booth breakdown
Booths have been divided into three parts, according to local government boundaries.

The ALP vote peaked at 49% in Port Hedland, with no other party polling over 20%. The Labor vote was lowest in East Pilbara, where the combined conservative vote was over 50%.

The Greens vote peaked at 12.2% in Port Hedland.

Voter groupALP %NAT %LIB %GRN %Total votes% of ordinary votes
Roebourne40.6926.0120.228.894,67952.37
Port Hedland48.9915.2017.0412.202,82931.66
East Pilbara39.8033.9916.336.101,42715.97
Other votes48.2218.5017.659.421,773
Labor primary votes in Pilbara at the 2008 WA state election.
Nationals primary votes in Pilbara at the 2008 WA state election.
Liberal primary votes in Pilbara at the 2008 WA state election.
Labor primary votes in the Roebourne area at the 2008 WA state election.
Nationals primary votes in the Roebourne area at the 2008 WA state election.
Liberal primary votes in the Roebourne area at the 2008 WA state election.
Labor primary votes in the Port Hedland area at the 2008 WA state election.
Nationals primary votes in the Port Hedland area at the 2008 WA state election.
Liberal primary votes in the Port Hedland area at the 2008 WA state election.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Does Gryllis actually have any connection to this area?

    I guess the Nats must be extremely bullish here given the party leader is contesting, but it’s hardly the sort of safe seat where they can parachute any old outsider in.

  2. Grylls is from Corrigin – wheatbelt born and bred.

    Tom Stephens has been in parliament for over 30 years, longer than anyone except Norman Moore – that’s one helluva personal vote. He was in the upper house since 1982 (under the old province system in the 80’s, effectively single-member elections), then he ran for the federal seat of Kalgoorlie in 2004, lost, and got back into the WA lower house for Pilbara a few months later.

  3. And it looks like there won’t be any campaigning in Pilbara for the rest of the week. Category 4 cyclone > election.

  4. Nationals in a close one to watch.
    Realistically, Grylls is taking a risk as a blow-in, unless the voters think that they’re getting some benefit out of Royalties for Regions.
    On the other hand, Labor should struggle to hold without Stephens, and Howlett might have baggage in having previously stood for the Greens – this might be Howlett’s howler!

  5. One thing that I forgot to mention before: if Grylls fails to win, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Nationals put him on their Senate ticket in WA for the next federal election.

  6. Grylls, regardless of whether you agree with his politics, must be one of the most remarkable Australian politicians of our time. Basically taken an irrelevant rump party with few seats with no influence to powerful party at a state and federal level and he is yet to reach 40. Discuss?

Comments are closed.