A perspective from Perth, Western Australia

Friday, August 04, 2006

Preselection woes for sitting Liberals in the West

It seems that sitting federal Pearce MP, Judi Moylan, is being challenged for preselection, as is sitting Tangney MP Dennis Jensen. News is slow but the "Perth Now" website appears to have the most complete story at this stage, while ABC Radio has been covering it during the day.

The upshot of this story is that it is a storm in a teacup. Pearce is an extremely unusual seat which wraps around the north and east of Perth while taking in its outermost suburbs - both Gingin and Narrogin are in this seat, as is the eastern fringe of Midland and the Clarkson-Quinns connurbation. As far as I can see by comparing 20 years of Federal and State statistics:

  • Clarkson-Yanchep (far northern suburbs) - a mortgage-belt vote which tends Labor, but votes for Judi Moylan. Reasonably strong Labor at state level.
  • Eastern Hills (Greenmount-Mundaring-Chidlow) - a solid Lib-Green vote as can also be seen in parts of Alexander Downer's Mayo electorate along the South East Freeway. The Green (13-18%) preferences in this part of Pearce, however, lean heavily towards Moylan. At state level it is marginal and fluctuates, at present Labor holds the entire region with Green preferences.
  • East Midland (Midvale-Swan View) - solidly Labor although Swan View and Stratton have voted Liberal for the past two Federal elections. Adjustments by the AEC to this seat may see Bellevue enter from the southwest.
  • North rural (Gingin, Muchea) - Strong One Nation territory.
  • East rural (Toodyay, Northam, York, Narrogin
  • - While safe National at state level, Northam and York have comparatively high Labor votes and there is one ultra-safe Labor booth in Northam, possibly aided by a high Aboriginal population.

Surely the Liberals would have learned something from the Georgiou situation that a "liberal" Liberal is, from their point of view and no matter how troublesome for them, better than a Labor person? I've dealt with her in the past and she's a very strong representative for her area, even considering how ridiculously diverse the AEC have made it for her.

The news is now suggesting that failed Merredin candidate (One Nation 2001 byelection; Liberal 2005) Jamie Falls, the mayor of Dalwallinu, which is quite a distance within Wilson Tuckey's O'Connor electorate, is the challenger. Tuckey is denying any involvement but Falls appears to be on first name terms with him. I doubt that the increasingly suburban nature of this seat would tolerate a candidate with views compatible with One Nation, and I think this will be reflected at branch level. Georgiou had an opponent who would have carried the seat, and his seat was less at risk, but the local branches strongly backed him.

The challenge to Dennis Jensen is in Perth's safest southern suburbs Liberal seat, taking in an ethnically diverse area which includes Ferndale, Willetton, Bull Creek, Leeming, Applecross and parts of Melville. There is no risk to the Liberals here no matter what happens, but I doubt that they will favour a challenge to a sitting member as it presents a picture of disunity.

(Thanks to Antony Green for the leads for this article.)



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