Newspoll’s long awaited October-December result of state voting intention in Western Australia shows Colin Barnett’s government on track for a landslide win at the election to be held on March 9.

The Liberal-National lead on two-party preferred is 58-42, up a point on an already surprisingly robust lead for July-September, from primary votes of 43% for the Liberals (steady), 6% for the Nationals (up one), 30% for Labor (steady) and 12% for the Greens (steady). Barnett’s personal ratings are essentially unchanged, his approval up a point to 49% and disapproval steady on 37%, while Mark McGowan is down four on approval to 44% and up three on disapproval to 26%. Barnett’s lead as preferred premier is up from 45-29 to 48-29.

And in lower house preselection news …

The Liberal Party state council has confirmed, apparently with some reluctance, the preselection of sustainability consultant Matt Taylor in Christian Porter’s seat of Bateman. Gareth Parker of The West Australian reported the state council had earlier gone back and forth on the question of whether the preselection should be conducted according to the usual procedure, with a vote of delegates from eligible branches, or by a plebiscite of all members, which was on the table because the electorate had only one eligible branch. A plebiscite was initially favoured, which would reportedly have been bad news for Taylor, but there followed a change of mind and a ballot held by the one eligible branch. Taylor duly prevailed in the ballot over RAC executive Matt Brown by 10 votes to nine, with lawyer Jane Timmermanis and teacher Cam Tinley as also-rans. However, the state council initially refused to ratify the result and resolved to determine the matter directly, only to concur with the party branch in favouring Taylor out of the four candidates available.

Labor has announced it will direct preference to the Liberals ahead of the Nationals in every seat, which could damage the Nationals in tight three-cornered contests that loom in Moore, Blackwood-Stirling and Kalgoorlie. Ben Wyatt apparently suggested it might also make the difference in Brendon Grylls’ audacious bid to move to Labor-held Pilbara, although he should hope to be wrong about that as it would involve Labor falling from first place to third.

John Bowler has announced he will retire at the next election, after serving as a Labor minister who won Kalgoorlie as an independent in 2008. The seat will be contested for the Nationals by Mining & Pastoral MLC Wendy Duncan, for the Liberals by Melissa Price and for Labor by Terrence Winner.

And in the upper house …

Two of the three Nationals elected for the Agricultural upper house region in 2008, Max Trenorden and Phil Gardiner, have confirmed they will seek re-election as the first and second candidate on an independent ticket. Trenorden was the leader of the Nationals from 2001 until he was deposed by Grylls in 2006, holding the lower house seat of Avon until its abolition at the 2008 election. He parted company with the Nationals after failing to win re-endorsement earlier this year, prompting Gardiner to announce he would not contest the election out of solidarity. Trenorden originally contemplated a run for Central Wheatbelt, to be vacated due to Grylls’ bid for Pilbara and contested for the Nationals by the party’s third Agricultural region winner from 2008, Mia Davies. The Nationals’ Agricultural ticket will be headed by Martin Aldridge, a former chief-of-staff to Tony Crook.

The Nationals have chosen state party director Jacqui Boydell as their lead candidate for Mining and Pastoral, replacing Wendy Duncan who will run for the lower house seat of Kalgoorlie. Second on the ticket is Dave Grills, a Kalgoorlie police officer and the state party’s deputy president. Incumbent Colin Holt remains undisturbed at the top of the ticket for South West, and will be joined on the ticket by Sam Harma, Young Nationals state president and candidate for Albany in 2008.

Peter Fray

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