Electoral Form Guide: O’Connor
Margin: Liberal 13.5%
Location: Southern Regional, Western Australia
In a nutshell: Wilson Tuckey remains a local legend among his rural and regional constituency, whatever urban dwellers might think of him. Tuckey’s bitter rivals in the Nationals remain a threat, but the redistribution has done him a good turn by dividing the party’s Wheatbelt heartland between O’Connor and the new seat of Durack.
Electorate analysis: The outstanding feature of the latest redistribution Western Australian has been its massive redrawing of the state’s remote stretches, with the vast interior – previously covered by abolished Kalgoorlie – now divided between O’Connor and the new seat of Durack. O’Connor now covers the southern part of the state beyond the south-western heartland, including the southern Wheatbelt at Narrogin, Wagin and Katanning, the forestry towns of Bridgetown and Manjimup, the southern coastline from Denmark and Albany east through Esperance to the South Australian border, and the newly acquired Goldfields. The redistribution adds 31,000 voters in the latter area, mostly in Kalgoorlie and Esperance, while transferring 38,000 in the northern part of the Wheatbelt to Durack.
O’Connor was created at the 1980 election from territory previously covered by Moore and Canning, and was won on debut by Tuckey with help from a schism at that time in the state National Party. The division of the Wheatbelt between the two electorates with the redistribution has helped diminish the ongoing threat the Nationals pose to Tuckey, which was brought into focus by their exceptionally strong performance at the 2008 state election. Now 75, Tuckey is a frequent source of consternation to his party’s leadership, but any thought of a threat to his preselection has been scotched by his popularity in local party branches. His Nationals opponent is Tony Crook, who ran for the Senate in 2007 and the state seat of Kalgoorlie in 2008. The party website says Crook “has held a number of positions with the Royal Flying Doctor Service”.
Half way through the campaign, The West Australian reported Nationals polling had Wilson Tuckey leading them in O’Connor by just 51-49, from primary votes of 38 per cent for Tuckey, 23 per cent for Nationals candidate Tony Crook, 21 per cent for Labor and 8 per cent for the Greens, with 10 per cent undecided.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.