In today’s The West Australian, Sarah Martin (Federal Political Editor) claims that the Liberals are considering not contesting the by-election for the Federal seat of Perth. Apparently senior Liberals say it would be “beyond historic” for the Liberals to win.
Rubbish. Not that the Liberals won’t run, but that they can’t win.
As the chart shows, the trend over the last 17 years is quite clear. The Liberals only need to pick up an additional 3.34% from primary or preference votes to win. The Australian Electoral Commission defines a seat as ‘marginal’ when the leading party receives less than 56% of the two-party preferred vote.
Should they run?
It is understandable for the sitting pollies to want to preserve election funds for when they are running, likely, next year. But it will be incredibly weak if they don’t run a candidate in Perth. Nationwide, they will look scared.
Sure, they didn’t run in the 2018 Batman by-election, but their 2016 primary vote was an embarrassingly low 19.89%, so who can blame them. Perth is a totally different matter because the Liberals received 5% more primary votes than Labor. Labor won because the Greens polled really well and received 17% of the primary votes, and 83.71% of the Greens votes subsequently flowed through to Labor.
Can they win?
Most definitely. In my opinion …
Unless someone like Scott Ludlam runs, The Greens are unlikely to poll as strongly as they did in 2016; Di Natale has come out with some pretty abstract comments and policies.
Federally, the electorate are largely fed up with both the major parties. Neither can claim the gold medal for mass popularity and neither is really hated more than the other. Yes, the Libs have been in office for a while, but have they overstayed their welcome like the electorate decided their WA State counterparts had? I don’t think so, and I also don’t think people have forgotten the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd years either. So I’d say it’s pretty line ball on that front.
The Liberals have two advantages in a Perth campaign though. First, they have been unceremoniously booted out of office in WA – that message has been sent. Second they are in power. They are the only party which can make funding promises in the electorate and deliver on them in quick time. That’s a powerful position to be in. On that note, the City of Bayswater makes up almost 50% of the federal seat of Perth. Any Federal pollies who descend here for the by-election should bear that in mind when making their funding promises.
The obvious disadvantage for the Liberals is that they have no MLA’s in the region who, with their office staff, would otherwise help out.
I think the Liberals will run, and it will be a fascinating election. Throw in representatives from One Nation and the newly formed Western Australia Party, which is focused on the GST, and it could be anyone’s victory. Louise Pratt will be a very brave person if she resigns as Senator to contest, however I agree she has more chance of winning than Patrick Gormann because she is known, and respected, in the area. I suspect Gormann knows he may not win and simply wants an easier path, so pressure is coming down on Pratt to relinquish her Senate spot which Gormann will take. As for the Liberals chances, it relies on their candidate – party sycophant who’ll obey the powerbrokers or someone like Andrew Hastie, or a high profile casualty from the last State election, like Joe Francis.
Power to the People
(Please be aware that these views are my own and have not been endorsed by the City of Bayswater)