The Western Australian Labor Party 19 member Administrative Committee
met last night and resolved to open nominations for preselection for
Gallop’s seat of Victoria Park today. They will remain open for seven
days. As if it cannot resist the temptation to rort its own processes,
the Liberal Party has appointed a candidate without advertising or
Under Western Australian Labor Party rules, by-election preselections
are conducted by the Administrative Committee however, the Left
attempted to have the Victorian Park matter dealt with by the Party’s
State Executive, made up of 220 delegates.
It seems Premier Alan Carpenter who was sworn in on Wednesday promptly
exerted his new found authority and insisted that the Administrative
Committee deal with the preselection. The delay in having the matter
heard by the State Executive would have unquestionably delayed the
process and forced out the election date.
Labor understands the imperative of an early election so as to
the benefit of both Carpenter’s honeymoon and the deep sympathy for
Gallop’s forced resignation from the seat. The Liberal Party is
expecting the election to be held on 25 February however it seems more
likely to be the following week.
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There appear to be two leading contenders. One is Tony Cook, former
Secretary of Unions WA, previously the Trades and Labour Council who is
presently an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work and
Social Policy at Curtin University. The other is Ben Wyatt, a part
aboriginal DPP lawyer. Cooke is from the Left and Wyatt will attract
support from the Right.
The amount by which the Labor Party wins this by-election is important
to Carpenter because it will reflect the level of personal authority he
can claim on the Premiership and the Party. For this reason the
government will place great store on the outcome. Labor will mount a
very strong campaign. This makes the Liberal Party’s decision to
contest a Labor seat presently held by a 16% margin all the more