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 …

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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