Wednesday, March 16, 2005

WA Labor returned to government

Chris Latham, Perth

Geoff Gallop's state Labor government held onto power in the February 26 Western Australian election, albeit with a reduced parliamentary majority. While there are still a number of seats undecided, the ALP's majority in the lower house looks likely to fall from 11 to nine seats.

Prior to the poll, it appeared that Labor's unpopularity may prevent it from returning to government. However, following a series of embarrassing Coalition policy releases — particularly the proposed $2 billion Kimberley-to-Perth canal plan — big business became increasingly unconfident in the Coalition's ability to deliver a stable and reliable government. This was reinforced by the ALP's promise to deliver fiscal responsibility, demonstrated by its refusal to be drawn into a bidding war with the Coalition over the Australian Nurses Federation's determined push for a decent enterprise agreement for its members.

Both major parties experienced large swings towards them in both the lower and upper houses. In the Legislative Assembly there was a swing of 4.63% to Labor, bringing its vote to 41.87%. In the Legislative Council a swing to Labor of 5.42% took its vote to 43.36%. The Liberal Party's primary vote increased by 4.47% in the Legislative Assembly and 3.15% in the Legislative Council, to 35.63% and 37.11% of the vote respectively.

The growth in the vote for the ALP and Liberals came at the expense of the minor parties, particularly the Australian Democrats and One Nation, who had swings against them of 2% and 8% in both houses. The Greens also suffered a swing of 0.48% against them in the Legislative Council, down to a vote of 7.52%, representing a loss of 1200 votes. In the Legislative Assembly the Greens' vote increased by 0.31%, to 7.58%.

One Nation lost all three of its seats in the Legislative Council to the Liberal Party, and the Greens lost three of their five seats to the ALP. However, the Greens continue to hold the balance of power in the upper house.

The Socialist Alliance stood in three upper house seats and gained between 0.06% and 0.28% of the vote. The Coogee Coastal Action Coalition, which has been campaigning against the construction of the Port Coogee marina, won 0.5% of the vote in the South Metropolitan Region.

From Green Left Weekly #619.


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