Margin: Labor 1.0%
Location: Perth Eastern Suburbs, Western Australia
In a nutshell: This Perth eastern suburbs seat has had a brief but exciting history: won for Labor by Sharryn Jackson in 2001, lost by her to Liberal candidate Stuart Henry in 2004, and recovered by her again in 2007. Labor thought the seat gone for all money at the height of the mining tax imbroglio, but by all accounts the contest is now back on.
Two-party vote map
Swing % map
Electorate analysis: Located in Perth’s eastern suburbs, Hasluck was created when Western Australia gained its fifteenth seat at the 2001 election, from territory that had previously been in Perth, Tangney and Swan. It consists of three discrete population areas which lean to Labor in the north and south, and to the Liberals in the centre. The northern area includes Midland, home to a high proportion of elderly voters, rent payers and low-income earners, and the more Liberal-friendly Guildford, which is demographically unremarkable on all measures. The central area includes middle-income suburbs around Kalamunda in the Darling Scarp, home to a large number of English migrants, as well as mortgage-sensitive Forrestfield and Maida Vale nearer the city. The southern suburbs of Gosnells, Thornlie and Maddington are marked by lower levels of income and home ownership. The redistribution has added over 9000 voters at the southern end of the electorate, in an area covering Southern River and the balance of Thornlie and Huntingdale.
Hasluck had a notional Labor margin of 2.6 per cent going into the 2001 election, at which the Liberals achieved an insufficient swing of 0.6 per cent. The inaugural member was Sharryn Jackson, who had worked for 15 years as an official with the Left faction Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union. Jackson was seen off by a 3.6 per cent swing to the Liberals at the 2004 election, part of an allergic reaction to Mark Latham throughout the suburbs of Perth. Labor managed to pick up swings in a few of the wealthier booths around Kalamunda, but this was swamped by a substantial shift to the Liberals in low-income and mortgage-paying areas.
The incoming Liberal member was Stuart Henry, former executive director of the Western Australian Master Plumbers Association. Jackson meanwhile quickly established that her political career was an ongoing concern, being elected state president of the ALP in November 2005. When Kim Beazley lost the leadership in December 2006 it was reported that the LHMWU was urging Jackson to contest his seat of Brand, but she declared herself set on recovering Hasluck and was duly preselected there. Jackson won the seat back at the ensuing election with a swing of 3.1 per cent, 1.0 per cent higher than the statewide result, partly offsetting Labor’s loss of the Perth seats of Cowan and Swan. The swing was particularly strong in the south of the electorate, more subdued in the centre, and barely registered in the north.
The Liberals have nominated Ken Wyatt, Office of Aboriginal Health director and uncle of Ben Wyatt, a rising star of the state Labor Party. It was reported last year that the nod might go to former WA Police Union president Mike Dean, who had been courted by both parties. He decided not to proceed citing personal issues, saying he might yet pursue a career in state politics.
In the second week of the campaign Labor promised to provide $480 million of $600 million sought by the Western Australian government to improve roads around Perth Airport, which will include widening Tonkin Highway to a six-lane freeway. There was also an as-yet-uncosted promise to provide funding to an upgrade of four kilometres of Great Eastern Highway. Julia Gillard made a surprise visit to Western Australia three days out from election day, which was interpreted as indicating Labor was slightly behind in the three key WA seats of Swan, Canning and Hasluck.
Even before the mining tax was announced, Labor internal polling was said to have it in a “disastrous” position, but recent published polling has been encouraging for Labor. After the leadership change Morgan surveyed 200 voters in the electorate and found the Liberal swing to be 1.0 per cent, putting the seat right on the edge. However, the small sample was such that the margin of error on the poll was a hefty 7 per cent. In the first week of the campaign Westpoll surveyed 400 voters and found Labor on 47 per cent of the primary vote and 54 per cent on two-party preferred, with a margin of error of 5 per cent. The following week The West Australian reported Labor internal polling had it at 50-50. In the second last week of the election Hasluck was one of four Perth marginals covered by a Galaxy survey of 800 respondents, and it showed a 2.1 per cent swing against Labor across the four. Peter Kerr of the Financial Review reported in the final week of the campaign that Labor insiders in Western Australia were growing confident they were ahead in up to three (WA) marginals – Liberal-held Canning as well as Swan and Hasluck. The result in each was thought likely to come down to between 500 and 600 votes. The JWS Research-Telereach poll conducted on the final weekend of the campaign, covering 400 respondents with a margin of error of about 5 per cent, had the Liberals leading 56.6-43.4 in Hasluck.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.