Here is Charles Richardson’s post-election analysis of the WA
poll, plus the first two items from Crikey’s Sunday night subscriber
email after the Gallop government was returned.


Final numbers from the WA election

From the second March 1 subscriber email

By Charles Richardson

Back from Western Australia – many thanks, by the way, to all those
who helped when I was over there – the picture hasn’t changed much
since Sunday morning. Counting for the lower house isn’t finalised, but
it looks pretty certain that the result will be ALP 32, Liberals 18,
Nationals 5 and 2 independents. That’s a Labor majority of 7
(previously it was a notional 7 but effectively 9, since there was one
pro-Labor independent). Apart from Greenough (Nat gain from Libs), it’s
exactly what I predicted.

The Legislative Council is much closer, and
won’t be finalised for a few days. Plugging the latest figures into
Graham Allen’s preference calculators (available at the Poll Bludger), I get the following result:

  • ALP 15 (up 2)
  • Liberals 14 (up 2)
  • Greens 2 (down 3)
  • Nationals 1 (unchanged)
  • Christian Democrats 1 (up 1)
  • Fremantle Hospital Support Group 1 (up 1)
  • One Nation 0 (down 3)

The
remarkable thing about that result, if it comes off, is that it gives
the left a majority (18-16) even with only one of the five seats in
Agricultural – the left are winning a majority in every other region.

It
now looks as if the Christian Democrats (the Fred Nile group) will win
the fifth seat Agricultural; if, as seemed more likely on Sunday, the
second ALP candidate gets up instead, it will give the ALP and Greens a
majority, without having to rely on the Fremantle Hospital person. It
is still, however, possible that the right (either Nationals or Family
First) could win the last seat in South West at the expense of the
Greens, which would return things to the 17-17 deadlock that most
observers had expected prior to Saturday.

One interesting
aspect of this election has been the way that the internet commentators
outperformed the conventional media. The three main internet tipsters –

Poll Bludger
William Bowe,
Mr Mumble

Peter Brent, and myself – all got it right. (Brent’s final tip of a
13-seat majority was a bit high, but he deserves credit for having
predicted a comfortable Labor win several weeks out.) In the rest of
the media, however, commentators were still insisting it was going to
be close right up to Saturday.

Even the result did not disabuse some of them. Steve Pennells, state political editor at The West Australian,
said yesterday that “on Saturday night, Labor powerbrokers, staffers
and true believers braced themselves for the real possibility of
annihilation.” But by Thursday at the latest, anyone who believe
annihilation was still a “real possibility” was living in a fantasy
world.

The West, mouthpiece of the Coalition for
most of the campaign, put a brave face on the result. On Saturday it
had surprised its readers by editorialising in favour of the
government, with this less than ringing endorsement:

… it could be argued that Labor has foregone any claim to community trust as a result of betraying it by breaking promises.

However,
a government should be ejected only if there is a better alternative.
Mr Barnett has failed to make a coherent or credible case for change.

West Australians should opt for the incumbent, even if they do so grudgingly and with reservations.

By yesterday morning, it had this to say:

[Geoff
Gallop] now has reason for increased confidence as he puts together his
second administration. But even he must acknowledge that Labor would be
nowhere near as well placed as it is but for a wretchedly inept
campaign by the WA Liberal Party.

Then follow several paragraphs detailing the opposition’s failings, concluding with this acknowledgement of reality:

As
it stands, the [Liberal] party is pretty much stuck where it was four
years ago and the proposed rebuilding effort … has been largely
frustrated.

… Labor campaigned well and is entitled to
its celebrations. But the government must understand it has a big job
ahead of it in making up for earlier shortcomings …

Charles Richardson’s WA election bulls-eye

From the February 26 subscriber email

By Charles Richardson, still in Western Australia

We
all make mistakes, even psephologists; I had to eat humble pie myself
after last October’s federal election. So I think I can be allowed a
little professional pride at an almost perfect forecast. On the latest
figures, the Liberal-National contest of Greenough is the only seat
that looks different to what I predicted, and even there the Liberals
might still scrape in.

Another three seats are doubtful – Murray, Bunbury and Roe (those are Antony Green’s computer’s calls) – but they are all leaning to the Liberals as I had expected.

Getting
individual seats right is largely a matter of luck. More interesting is
the big picture. The Labor government has been comfortably returned.
The issue was never really in doubt last night, although Stephen
“Rooster” Smith had a few moments looking worried at big early swings
in Albany and Bunbury (both subsequently pulled back). The Gallop
government, which had an effective majority of 9 prior to the election,
will have a majority of between 7 and 11 in the new parliament.

The
two-party-preferred swing looks like being towards the opposition, but
it will be very small. Labor may also have unexpectedly retained (in
conjunction with the Greens) a majority in the Legislative Council, but
it is too early to tell – more on that in a couple of days time.

The
location of Labor’s win is equally clear: the northern mortgage-belt
suburbs of Perth, where it comfortably retained its three marginals and
also took Kingsley from the Liberals. Its results in the country were
less spectacular, with big adverse swings in seats like Kalgoorlie,
Kimberley and (to a lesser extent) North West Coastal, but it has still
mostly held its ground.

With the collapse of One Nation the
Greens moved easily into third place overall (just over 7%), but it is
still a somewhat disappointing result for them; they will almost
certainly lose three of their five upper house seats. The Nationals
were fourth with 3.6%, but will also be disappointed: they look like
holding five Assembly seats, but two of them only on Labor preferences
and another two because the Liberals chose not to run against them.

Fifth
place went to the Christian Democrats, some distance ahead of newcomer
Family First. Between them, the parties of the far right (Christian
Dems, Family First, One Nation, New Country and the LaRouchites)
collected about 6.8%, well down from 2001.

As all commentators
emphasised last night, it was an election fought very much on state,
not federal, issues. Nonetheless, a victory in his home state will be a
big psychological boost for Kim Beazley. This was the Liberal Party’s
big opportunity to put itself on the road back to relevance at state
level. It blew it, and it may be a long time before it gets another
chance.

RIP Colin Barnett

By Crikey psephologist Charles Richardson


This
election, oddly, was mostly about the opposition leader, Colin Barnett.
In the volume of paper wrapping polling booths yesterday his was the
most prominent name on both Liberal and Labor posters.

If the election was a referendum on Barnett, then there is no question
about the result: he lost. But before leaping to write him off, it is
worth pausing to note his achievement.

Crikey has observed before that Western Australia is fifth state to
vote in the electoral cycle, and that the previous four, having
narrowly elected Labor governments in the period 1995-99, all went on
to give them landslide victories after one term. Geoff Gallop – or
Colin Barnett – has broken that pattern.

Of the four opposition leaders who went down to defeat before him, only
one, Rob Borbidge in Queensland (the only one who was himself a former
premier), did the honourable thing by immediately resigning the
leadership.

Kerry Chikarovski in New South Wales and Robert Doyle in Victoria both
stayed on, thus dooming their parties for the next term. Chikarovski
was duly nobbled by her party shortly before the subsequent election
(too late for it to make a difference), and Robert Doyle may yet suffer
the same fate. Bob Cheek in Tasmania was spared the need to make a
decision by losing his own seat.

Colin Barnett has done easily the best of the lot. Instead of a massive
swing to the government, there has been no swing at all, and he looks
like slightly increasing his tally of seats. Yet, in contrast to
Chikarovski and Doyle, his leadership is being written off. Such is the
unfairness of public life.

Barnett has now decided to quit, realising that the very personal
nature of this campaign made it impossible that he would survive for
long. Numbers are already being counted for the succession.

After Barnett had conceded defeat last night, Stephen Smith, on
ABC TV, took the opportunity to pay a very warm tribute to him for his
time as resources minister in the Court government, saying that he had
served his state well. For a day that had started with the nightmare of
being editorialised against by The West Australian, it was good to see someone finally have something nice to say about Colin Barnett.