/ 12 March 2021

Western Oz set for a big swining election

THE SQUIZ
It’s the only big election in Australia this year, so we’ve gotta make Western Australia’s poll set for tomorrow count. It was fitting that the campaign started in the middle of a coronavirus lockdown after the year’s events – and it’s WA, so there’s plenty of colour and movement…

WHAT’S THE STATE OF PLAY?
• The dominant figure is Labor leader and Premier Mark McGowan (53yo). After a big return to government in 2017 (aka delivering the largest swing against an incumbent in WA’s modern political history), Labor currently holds 40 of the 59 seats in the Legislative Assembly. And Labor is riding high on a wave of support for its handling of the coronavirus crisis, including its hard border closures.

• The Liberals go in with 13 seats – and that’s where the good news ends for them… Zak Kirkup – the youngest ever WA Liberal leader at 34yo – became leader after Liza Harvey quit in November. He’s a first-term MP who holds his seat by the teeny-tiny margin of 0.8%. And let’s just say he’s led an unconventional campaign that’s focused on the risk of giving the McGowan Government “total control”.

• The other six seats are held by the Nationals. They aren’t in a formal coalition with the Liberals, but Kirkup says he would be open to that.

SO LABOR’S GOING TO WIN, RIGHT?
That’s what the Liberal’s leader says. McGowan’s decision to embrace splendid isolation by banning all travel to Western Oz 3 weeks into the pandemic seems to have made him a popular guy. Like, an 88% approval rating kinda popular… With the mining sector booming, the McGowan Government delivered a budget surplus last financial year – and some voters have gone nuts for it… And Kirkup is right to be worried. The last Newspoll gave Labor a 68:32 lead representing a 12.5% swing in the government’s favour. If that transpires tomorrow, the Liberals will be reduced to just 2 seats – but neither McGowan nor Kirkup reckon that will happen. One thing voters can be pleased about – democracy sausages are back

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