Crikey has caused a debate in WA media circles after we exclusively revealed the results of the latest Westpoll result which The West Australian had controversially withheld.


From the February 5 sealed section

The Swampthing writes:

“Perhaps West Australian editor Paul “Boy Wonder” Armstrong would care to explain to his reporters, readers and shareholders why the monthly “state-of-the-parties” Westpoll results have disappeared. Especially when the missing opinion polls show a strong recovery by Good News Geoff and his Labor Government.

Swampthing has gown tired of waiting for any semblance of balance from his masters. So, in the interests of truth and honesty, Swampthing presents the missing Westpoll results. Primary votes as follows…

November – ALP 42 Coalition 42
December – ALP 43 Coalition 46
January – ALP 42 Coalition 43.

So there you have it Crikey readers. According to Armstrong, a shocking poll result for Labor gets the page one baseball bat treatment in September, a slight Labor recovery gets the inside pages in October but a strong labor recovery through November, December and January – that arguably puts GNG back in the game – doesn’t get a run at all.

How does an editor in a one-paper town justify paying for polling and not publishing it? Could it be that Boy Wonder only wants political stories that damage GNG and his hapless Government?”


How The West is spinning the story

By a connected media player

Steve Pennells, state politics reporter for The West Australian, says the storm – okay, the warm fart – in WA media circles over the non-publication of the paper’s Westpoll in recent months is all a big misunderstanding.

And in no way, says Pennells, is it part of a conspiracy by The West’s editor Paul Armstrong – described by more than one Worst hack as “right of Genghis Khan”– not to publish anything remotely positive about the Gallop Labor Government.

Speculation goes that the recent polls have been quite good for the Labor team, which explains to many why Armstrong hasn’t run them.

However, in last week’s Sunday Times, Armstrong was reported saying he hadn’t even seen the Westpoll figures because Pennells hadn’t shown them to him.

Pennells has confirmed this, saying the only people who knew the results of the January poll before they hit Crikey last week were him, John Arthur (the chief of Gallop’s Government Media Office) and pollster Keith Patterson.

Pennells says there was no poll taken in December, and the January one was unremarkable for the government: “I said to John Arthur that we’d run the January figures with the February figures [to show the trend] which would be held this week, but for your interest, here they are.”

Pennells said there was nothing strange in the paper not running its Westpoll results on the dot every month, and he was annoyed that his trying to be “open and accountable” by giving the figures to Gallop’s chief spinner resulted in the paper being accused of an anti-government conspiracy.

PS: Grahame Armstrong, the Sunday Times’ chief political reporter and Pennells’ rival, used to be Gallop’s media spinner. He was recruited from the Times, worked for Gallop for some time before jumping ship back to his old job. He’s pretty straight down the line and has had a go at Labor on a few issues, so he isn’t in their pocket, but it should be declared he used to be on the payroll.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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