Strange campaign tactics in the West.

In all probability Premier Geoff Gallop will lose the forthcoming State election. If he does he will have only himself to blame.

Gallop
either does not accept or does not understand that he won the last
election entirely on One Nation preferences. It is true to say he is
not alone. Both Anthony Green and Charles Richardson have recently
written pieces appearing in Crikey which apparently misunderstand the
obvious truth.

Gallop is utterly convinced that he was elected in 2001 on Greens preferences.

One
Nation’s primary and preference votes had two consequences in seats the
outcome of which they dictated. In the first instance their primary
vote came overwhelmingly from the Liberal Party and the flow back of
preferences was so low as to critically destroy the Coalition’s vote in
these seats. In the second, One Nation’s preferences were directed to
the Labor Party in a number of crucial seats and they were directly
responsible for the seats falling to Labor.

Put in simple
form: Had One Nation not stolen the Liberal Party’s primary vote and
had the identical flow of One Nation preferences in seats where One
Nation directed them to Labor been reversed as between the Labor Party
and the Liberal Party, these seats would have been won by the Liberal
Party and it would have retained office.

The influence of
One Nation’s how to vote card is equally demonstrated in the seats won
by the Liberal Party where One Nation directed its preferences to the
Liberal Party.

The Greens preferences did not secure one
seat to the Labor Party however in the case of two Upper House seats,
One Nation preferences which were directed to the Greens ahead of the
major Parties, resulted in the election of Greens candidates.

The
consequence of Gallop’s illusion is that he has pursued the ‘green”
vote with the same single mindedness which saw Latham destroy himself
in the forests of Tasmania.

He has locked up enormous areas
of land effectively precluding mining, prohibited recreational fishing
along miles of coastline contrary to departmental advice and banned
cray fishing in an area because it interferes with surfing.

He
has also announced plans to compulsorily resume thousands of hectares
of semi residential and rural land from hundreds of private property
owners for “bushland reserves”, stalled stage 2 of the Ord River
development and stopped cotton development in the Kimberley; just to
name a few issues.

Each of these policies directly impacts on seats which Labor holds with slim majorities.

The
recently released COAG report on bush-fire mitigation and management
was held up for eight months by the WA Labor government principally
because of the Greens objection to some of its recommendations.

Gallop
also seems blithely unaware that Graham Richardson’s 1980’s claim to
have delivered government to Labor through securing Greens preferences
has been utterly discredited.

A number of studies have
demonstrated that the Greens have little or no influence over their
preferences. On the occasions they have directed them away from Labor
their voters have overwhelmingly ignored their advice in favour of the
Labor Party.

In fruitless search of more Green preferences,
Gallop has chosen to ignore and alienate the constituency which last
delivered him government.

Strange campaign tactics in the West

Political correspondent Christian Kerr writes:

The
ABC reports that Ron Johnston, the Liberal candidate for the Labor held
seat of Kimberley, has gone to unusual lengths to boost his profile in
the Western Australian election.

Johnston has officially changed his name so that his nick-name of “Sos” can appear on the ballot papers.

The move follows a phone poll showing that few voters recognised the well-known local identity as “Ron”.

The Electoral Commission refused to list the nickname, so Johnston was forced to change his name for good.

Johnston
told the ABC he has been known as “Sos” since arriving in the
north-west in 1971, but wants the origin of the name to remain a
well-kept secret.

“Yes, well that’s steeped in a bit of folklore and history…that one – I think well just…let that one pass,” he said.

So
what does it mean? Reader’s suggestions are welcome, but given that the
Western Australian Liberals want to roll back the state’s gay law
reforms, what’s the betting that it doesn’t mean “Straight Only Sex”.

Meanwhile, Sam Groper writes of the battle hotting up in a fiery Perth:

The
fight for the marginals in the WA election cranked up a notch with the
release of some polling data in local Murdoch bleeder The Sunday Times.
With bushfires causing even more power havoc at Yanchep in a
late-thirty degree day, a poll of three marginal seats Geraldton,
Mindarie and Swan Hills in the SpunWell Crimes showed the Gallop
Government was holding its own in two out of three.

But the poll
was bad news for Swan Hills Labor MLA Jaye Radisich, who at 32% was
twenty points behind her opponent Lib Steve Blizzard. Locally, Ms
Radisich – who at 24 was the youngest ever woman to be elected to the
WA Parliament in 2001 – has recently been bombarding locals with a
colourful tabloid size advertising feature slipped inside the local
papers.

The newsletter (which looks more like a real estate
prospectus with its green fields shot) has raised a few hackles around
the quiet rural reaches of the Swan – not least for some questions of
accuracy.

“Jaye lives in our region and has local family ties
that date back to the early 1900s” it proclaims. A source reckons she
lives in suburban Perth – hardly the Hills “region”.

And a few
locals feel it’s “a bit off” that the young lass uses, as one of the
main features in the screed, the fact that she contracted – and fought
off – kidney cancer two years ago. Tragic for her then – but hardly
relevant now.

“Like many other people, Jaye has had to fight
cancer. She’s a tough cookie, and she won that battle and now she’s
healthier than ever.” Just in case you didn’t hear about it in the last
four years – here’s a reminder.

Poor Mark Latham. Another missed
opportunity… Where were these guys when Latham slowly self-destructed
due to an attack of severely aggravated pancreatitis – severely
aggravated in the main by any number of non-supportive Labor Premier.

It
looks like for this Labor MP, having had a serious disease some years
back – complete with the right spin doctoring from WA Labor’s
strategists anyway – can be turned into an electoral plus!

Or the Jaye Team could look at the poll numbers…

Charles Richardson responds to Walter West

From Crikey’s subscriber email 1 February.

Walter
West’s comments in Crikey merely confirm a useful rule of politics:
arguments about preferences, even though they seem to be about tactics,
are more often about ideology.

We’ve seen this many times
in Queensland: Liberals and Nationals argue about One Nation
preferences, superficially about how valuable they are to do deals
with, but in reality about whether they’re philosophically closer to
One Nation than they are to Labor.

Same in WA: West hates
the Greens, therefore he doesn’t want Labor to deal with them for

preferences, therefore he’s committed to saying those preferences
aren’t important. The figures are there for support, not illumination.

As
it happens, he’s partly right: direction of Greens preferences in the
lower house doesn’t count for much, because Greens voters don’t follow
the how-to-vote card very well.

But West fails to see that the same applies to One Nation, as I pointed out in my earlier contribution on the subject.

It
may be true that One Nation’s votes “came overwhelmingly from the
Liberal Party”. But what matters is not where they came from but where
they were going, and on the evidence it seems to me that they were
going to Labor independently of whether One Nation was there or not.
That’s why I remain of the view that One Nation was not the decisive
factor in the 2001 WA election.

It may still be the case,
of course, that in policy terms it’s worth courting the votes of minor
party supporters – trying to appeal, that is, to the voters themselves
rather than their leaders. But I don’t see why this is likely to be
more effective in the case of One Nation voters than Greens voters.

Graham
Richardson’s claim about 1990 is interesting because he was one person
who didn’t have an ideological axe to grind: his political starting
point was anti-Green, but he came to believe that their support was
crucial to Hawke’s victory.

Was he right? Well, it’s
ancient history now, but some who have studied the subject certainly
think so, despite West’s view that the claim “has been utterly
discredited”. Malcolm Mackerras, for example, reviewing the 1990 result
in his 1993 election guide, said that “there is every reason to suppose
that second preferences from conservationists were critical to Bob
Hawke’s return.”

Maybe we’ll be able to say the same about Geoff Gallop this year. But don’t hold your breath.

Peter Fray

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