Less than five months out from the State Election, a poll commissioned by UnionsWA has found the Labor and Liberal parties locked in a dead heat for the seat of Bicton.
Conducted by WA Opinion Polls, the poll surveyed 2700 West Australians across six key marginal Perth metropolitan electorates, including Bicton, where support for the major parties was split 50-50.
UnionsWA is the peak trade union body in the state and some of its members have strong Labor affiliations, prompting Liberal candidate for Bicton Matt Taylor to warn the poll result should be taken with a grain of salt.
The current MLA for Bateman, Mr Taylor was forced to contest Bicton after losing a vicious preselection battle with former Transport Minister Dean Nalder.
“The Union-commissioned suggestive polling not surprisingly came up with results that matched Labor’s campaign agenda but that is inconsistent with all my Bicton doorknocking and experience as an MP over the last four years,” he said.
“The polling was taken at the end of six months of selfish internal destabilisation, which damaged the Liberal brand and helped Labor.
“I believe the polling was taken at a time Labor enjoyed its highest level of support and now that the Liberal Party can fully focus on governing and campaigning as a team, that margin will continue to reduce between now and the March election.”
Statewide, the poll found that health, public transport and jobs were the three most important issues to voters, issues Labor candidate for Bicton Lisa O’Malley said she heard about regularly.
“The reason these issues come up so often is because the Liberal Government has failed to address them,” she said. “I’ve spoken to patients who are waiting a long time to have surgery but also to health employees worried about their jobs and conditions.
“People have lost faith in the Liberals’ ability to manage our health system.
“Residents frequently raise the issue of inadequate public transport in the area; for example, it’s ridiculous that some elderly residents have to catch a bus from Palmyra to Fremantle just to get back to Garden City.
“I’ve also spoken to many families who are under pressure because a partner has lost a job due to the downturn in the mining industry.”
Mr Taylor said he was more than happy to fight the election on the Liberal Government’s record on health and education over the last eight years.
“We have created a world leading health system by increasing the annual budget by an incredible 80 per cent to $8.6 billion and we have built or upgraded 61 health facilities from Bunbury to Joondalup and Midland, including the state-of-the-art Fiona Stanley Hospital and new Perth Children’s Hospital,” he said.
“This government has also increased overall education funding by 70 per cent, the average investment per full-time student by over 40 per cent, and funds our students higher than any other state in Australia.”