By Dylan Caporn
2013 is going to be a busy electoral year for West Australians as they are going to the polls no less than three times.
With a Federal election called for September 14, and local government elections expected around the same time, to have a state election in the same 12 month period seems a bit excessive.
However low and behold we are faced with the ever looming state election date of March 9, and if the campaign so far has been any indication, it’s going to be an interesting evening.
State of the Parliament
The current Parliament was voted in back in September of 2008. The then Labor Premier Alan Carpenter attempted to surprise the newly elected Liberal leader Colin Barnett by calling an early election. However the move back fired with voters opting for a hung parliament with the Nationals, and three Independents (Janet Woollard, Alfred Cove; Liz Constable, Churchlands; and John Bowler, Kalgoorlie) were left in the balance of power. After a week of consultation, they decided to form government with the Liberals.
The final election results were as follows:
Labor – 28
Nationals – 4
Independents – 3
However, four and a half years is a long time in politics, and the numbers have since changed.
The Labor Member for Fremantle, Jim McGinty retired inafter a substantial career in politics. At the by-election the Labor Party lost to Greens MP Adele Carles.
Carles later left the Greens and became a “Green Independent” after her affair with Treasurer Troy Buswell became public.
The Labor Member for North West, Vince Catania, jumped shipped and joined the Nationals as the electoral appeal of the Royalties for Regions program became too hard to resist.
The numbers are now:
Labor – 26
Nationals – 5
Independents – 4
A number of MPs are ending their political careers at this election, and in doing so they have opened up a number of seats.
On the Labor side former leader Eric Ripper is leaving his seat of Belmont after two decades in the position, while former Police Minister John Kobelke is finishing up in Balcatta. In the country, Members for Pilbara and Kimberley, Tom Stephens and Carol Martin are also calling it a day. All four of the seats are expected to be close battles.
On the conservative side, former Treasurer and Attorney General Christian Porter is moving on to a career in Federal politics however the Liberals are expecting to retain his seat of Bateman comfortably.
The Speaker Grant Woodhams is retiring after two terms as the Member for Moore. The battle for that seat will be fought between the Liberals and the Nationals, with Labor preferences deciding the winner.
Finally two independents are finishing up. Member for Churchlands Liz Constable is retiring and the Liberals are expected to pick that seat up, while the Member for Kalgoorlie John Bowler is bowing out, and the Nationals should win that seat.
The Campaign – So Far
With half the official campaign underway, voters now have a relatively good idea on what the election will revolve around and to paraphrase an attendee at ABC Local Radio’s Transport forum this truly is the “Congestion Election”.
The issue of transport and more importantly public transport has been a heavily debated issue since the release of Labor’s Metronet policy. Metronet, which stretches across the entirety of Perth, includes a line to the airport, a line to Ellenbrook and North and South
“Ring rails” which surround the inner suburbs of Perth.
The Liberal Party have responded with their version of an airport line as well as the Metro Area Express (MAX), a light rail track that connects Mirrabooka and the CBD, with intentions to connect it to UWA, Curtin and Burswood in the future.
However both plans have been criticised. While the Labor Party have been accused of “fudging the figures” with their $3.8 Billion price tag, and not taking into the pressure being placed on the Midland Line with the Ellenbrook Line, and the North Rail Ring stemming off of it.
The Liberal Party on the other hand have been accused of not looking at the bigger picture with their rail plan by Curtin Sustainability Professor Peter Newman. Newman believes that an airport line needs to be a part of a bigger public transport strategy, like Metronet.
Transport Minister has also been accused of not consulting with the City of Perth over the MAX proposal, with Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi unimpressed with the track going through either Murray or Hay Street malls.
Other issues in the campaign include the Kimberley Gas Hub, law and order and regional funding.
The Ten Seats to Watch
So, what seats do you need to keep an eye out for on election night.
Liberal / National
ALP 0.8%: Based on new electoral boundaries, Morley is notionally Labor and Britza will face a rough challenge, from the Labor candidate former journalist Reece Whitby.
LIB 1.7%: Covering a strip of inner suburbs, Mount Lawley should be a close battle this year because former MP Bob Kucera has been endorsed by Labor to take on first term MP Liberal Michael Sutherland.
LIB 2.0%: Riverton covers the inner southern suburbs of Perth and given the magin, new Liberal MP Dr Mike Nahan, faces a serious challenge from Labor’s Hannah Beazley, a daughter of former Federal Labor Leader Kim Beazley.
ALP 0.2%: Centered around the sleepy seaside town of the same name, Albany will be a three way contest between Labor MP Peter Watson facing Liberal Trevor Cosh and National Robert Sutton.
ALP 0.2%: East of Perth Airport, Forrestfield will have a case of deja vu with the two 2008 candidates contesting again. Labor MP Andrew Waddell, first elected in 2008, is opposed by the Liberal Party’s Nathan Morton.
ALP 2.2%: Balcatta is an inner-northern Perth electorate lying between Wanneroo Road and the Mitchell Freeway. After John Kobelke’s retirement, the new Labor candidate is Janet Pettigrew, opposed by Liberal Chris Hatton.
ALP 3.3%: Held by Labor’s Tony O’Gorman since 2001, Joondalup will be a close fight, with the Liberal candidate Jan Norberger, a local resources recruiter.
ALP 6.8%: In the far north of the state, the electorate of Kimberley is another electorate with a retiring MP. The Labor candidate is Josie Farrer, the Liberal Party nominating Jenny Bloom, while the National Party will continue its push into the north of the state by nominating Michele Pucci.
ALP 7.2%: Pilbara is an intriguing battle in 2013 with Nationals leader Brendon Grylls attempting to move into the seat. Fighting against him will be Labor candidate Kelly Howlett, Liberal candidate George Levissianos and Greens candidate Chris Maher.
IND 0.2% v LIB: After a scandalous term in Parliament, Independent MP, Janet Woollard faces a serious challenge from the Liberal’s Dean Nalder.
Polling would suggest that the Liberal Party is going to win in a landslide, however three weeks is a long time in politics, and anything could happen. I feel that the election is a lot closer however, the way the campaign is going at the moment, I’m saying that WA will again opt for a hung parliament, and the Nationals will form government with the Liberals. However, the Parliament will look considerably different, with it not containing an Independent MP for the first time in two decades. The main question now is whether Grylls can succeed in Pilbara, and whether Whitby wins in Morley.