How Western Australia was won by Labor and where does it go

This is the second truly catastrophic result for the Liberal Party in Western Australia in so many years. After being reduced to two seats in the lower house in the 2021 state election, last night the federal coalition suffered a swing against it that handed over to Labor all the seats it was realistically aiming for and, apparently, more. (maybe Moore too, more on that later).

There was Swan, who had lost his longtime liberal member Steve Irons; Pearce, who was losing former Attorney General Christian Porter to the scandal; and on the outer fringes, but much at stake, was Hasluck, detained by Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt.

It all fell into the hands of work. But then Tangney, held by Scott Morrison’s close ally Ben Morton by a “safe” margin of 11.5%, went sensationally. Moore, the previously very safe subway seat held by Ian Goodenough is, at the time of writing, still in doubt. Canning, a previously safe post held by Andrew Hastie, looks set to stay with the Liberals, but as a marginal.

Even the most optimistic Labor I spoke to during the campaign never mentioned those seats as targets. Huge, deeply secure liberal seats scattered across the regions, such as O’Connor and Durack, have also accompanied large swings towards Labor. The most marginal seat of Labor was Cowan, held by Anne Aly at 0.9%. She will sleep much better tonight after a 10.5% swing.

And it doesn’t stop at the lower house. As Shane Wright points out, the Senate is looks good for labor also: the primaries of the Liberal Senate fall by 11.4% while Labor rises by 6.5%.

And this is perhaps what is so striking about the result in the West. In Victoria and New South Wales, he expressed dissatisfaction with the Liberal Party a huge swing to the independent teal movement. In Queensland, the Greens had their biggest night ever in the lower chamber. WA has its teal challenger: Former WA liberal crown jewel Curtin is currently on track to fall into local independent Kate Chaney. But only in WA was it unequivocally the Labor Party that voters supported.

Swings towards the ALP are mouth watering: 15% in Pearce, 13.6% in Swan, 13.3% in Tangney, 11.8% in Hasluck, nearly 10% in Durack and just over 9% to O’Connor.

This is the first time since the Bob Hawke era that Labor has won more lower house seats in Western Australia than the Coalition – the ALP lost a seat here while the rest of the country was handing out a slide of Rudd, for God’s sake. Last time he didn’t get 30% of the primary votes.

Was it Liberal support for Clive Palmer’s cause against the state? The Croods? McGowan’s craze is disappearing the machine of the liberal campaign? the high profile WA Libs anonymity during the campaign, both for other commitments, scandal or apparent indifference? Or perhaps voters in the state, whose dislike of any kind of politics affecting the mining industry was so visceral that it turned into elections after elections, ultimately decided that action against climate change was the most pressing issue when it came to voted.

Either way, the Liberal Party in Western Australia will have to do (more and more) painful examination of public opinion on how, in the space of two years, the state has gone from a stronghold to a cemetery.