VOTERS in the seat of Kalamunda are tipped to play a key role in deciding whether the Barnett government holds on for a third term in power, with predictions Liberal stalwart John Day could lose his blue ribbon seat on March 11.
While the Liberals hold Kalamunda by a 10.3 per cent margin, Murdoch University political analyst Ian Cook said it had become a winnable seat for Labor candidate Matthew Hughes.
“Labor needs 10 seats to win. If they get the 10 per cent swing across all seats that some polls have been showing, then they don’t need to win Kalamunda to gain office,” he said.
“But swings aren’t uniform and the Liberals may hold on to one of the seats that they hold by 10 per cent or less. If the Liberals win one of those seats, then Labor needs to win Kalamunda to get that 10th seat. Kalamunda is the next most winnable seat for them, so all eyes will be on Kalamunda.”
Mr Cook said this week’s decision by One Nation Kalamunda candidate Ray Gould to quit the campaign could work in Labor’s favour.
“There are a significant number of former Labor supporters who see themselves better represented by One Nation,” he said.
“But while they are ex-Labor, they are not necessarily anti-Labor and are definitely not pro-Liberal.
“Assuming they have heard about Gould’s withdrawal as a One Nation candidate, they might end up giving their higher preference to Labor, which benefits Hughes.
“Day also doesn’t have the luxury of being able to present the Government as neglecting his electorate and otherwise failing to deliver services.”
Mr Hughes said the Liberal’s decision to preference One Nation could spell the end of the party’s chance of a third term.
“I sense John Day is really up against it,” he said.
“The Barnett government’s strategy of preferencing with One Nation has put a nail in the coffin and I believe many people will be disposed not to vote Liberal this State Election.”
Mr Hughes said the mood of voters had shifted and many in the electorate believed Mr Day had not delivered on his promises.
“The northern suburbs of the Kalamunda electorate – Hovea, Parkerville, Glen Forrest and Stoneville – had a big swing against Labor at the 2013 State Election, but we think the swing will go back to Labor this time,” he said.
“However, Piesse Brook, Paulls Valley, Carmel, Bickley, Lesmurdie and Kalamunda is a Liberal stronghold and that is where we need the biggest swing. You couldn’t blow rusted-on Liberal supporters away with dynamite, but I think there is certainly a mood for change.
“I have spoken to many Liberal voters who are unhappy with John Day and have indicated they will vote Labor for the first time.
“We are expecting a very close vote and possibly even a recount in Kalamunda.”
Ahead of contesting his seventh election, Mr Day said he also expected the vote to be close, but questioned the impact the exit of the One Nation candidate would have.
“I wasn’t involved in the decision to do a deal with One Nation and it has put the WA Liberal Party in a difficult position,” he said.
“There are people in the Hills community who are supportive of Pauline Hanson but then there are others who are not at all comfortable with One Nation.
“In 2001, One Nation helped the Labor Party get re-elected, so this time we are seeking to avoid One Nation benefiting the opposition.
“Some voters are uncomfortable with the deal but it doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t vote for the Liberal Party.”
Mr Day said he expected the election result would come down to a few seats.
Mr Cook said while Kalamunda was up in the air, the Liberals were “very unlikely” to hold West Swan, Forrestfield or Swan Hills.
“Recent polls suggest the swing to Labor will be closer to 10 and I think it will be more than that in many seats,” he said.
“They can still win Kalamunda due to John Day’s profile in the electorate but the Liberals are never going to win Midland.”
Pauline Hanson will be in Ellenbrook, Guildford and Midland on Friday to shore up votes ahead of Saturday’s election.