Ian Cook: State Election all about 10 per cent margins for WA Labor

Ian Cook: State Election all about 10 per cent margins for WA Labor

OPINION

ALL the polls show a swing towards WA Labor ahead of the State election; the only question is how big that swing is going to be.

It is all about 10s.

Labor needs a 10 per cent swing to win the 10 seats it needs to form government.

That is exactly the notional margin by which the Liberals hold Bicton and, assuming the predicted swing occurs across all electorates, Bicton will be the last seat Labor needs to gain office.

The latest ReachTEL poll has Labor gaining a 9 per cent swing in Bicton.

If that swing were uniform across WA, then the Liberals would hold the seat and win the election.

All eyes will be on the seat to see if Matt Taylor can hold it for the Liberals against a strong challenge from Labor’s Lisa O’Malley.

Name recognition is often important in voting and will be an important factor in Bateman.

Voters like to feel that they know the candidate they are voting for and knowing their name is a good start.

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Unlike his opponent, Labor’s relative unknown Tomas Fitzgerald, Dean Nalder has the highest profile among the candidates in the three seats of Bicton, Willagee and Bateman and with a 23 per cent margin he is in a good shape.

He will suffer a swing against him but the idea that it would be over 23 per cent is close to unthinkable.

We have seen quite a bit of volatility in elections at the State level – who can forget the 2015 Queensland State Election – but the Newman Government was much more on the nose than the Barnett Government.

Nalder’s profile and the size of the swing required to unseat him means that I just cannot see him losing.

The further you get from Roe 8 and 9, the more likely voters will be to either support the project or not care too much either way.

For that reason, I think Bicton and Bateman will not be nearly as affected by the Perth Freight Link as Willagee, which is bisected by Roe 8.

It is a big issue there and a negative for the Liberals.

While Peter Tinley holds the seat with only a 2.5 per cent margin, he was always going to do better than that in 2017 and Roe 8 has pretty much handed the seat to him.

I doubt anybody in the Liberal Party, apart from Rebecca Aubrey and her supporters, would be expecting to win Willagee.

So, Labor will win Willagee, the Liberals will win Bateman and Bicton is up for grabs.

It is hard to win third terms, partly because the government accumulates baggage by not always delivering on promises made during elections and partly because of the inevitable missteps by ministers and even Premiers.

The Government is also trying to sell the same product for a third time and that is always a difficult prospect.

I have consistently said that I would be surprised if Labor does not win on March 11; but I’ve been surprised by quite a few election results lately.

Dr Ian Cook is a senior lecturer in global politics and policy at Murdoch University, where he has taught since 1992. Here he shares his expert analysis on the upcoming State election, with a special focus on the seats of Bicton, Bateman and Willagee.