Judgement Day

07 Mar, 2013 01:00 AM

IN two days' time WA will decide on who will lead Australia's most prosperous State for the next four years.

Polls have weighed heavily in favour of the Liberals and experts are predicting a resounding win for the Barnett Government, but the position of the Nationals and the role they will play over the next four years is very much an unknown.

The leader of the 'third party' in WA, Brendon Grylls is taking the biggest gamble of his relatively short but high profile career in politics by running for the Labor-held seat of Pilbara.

Mr Grylls' decision raised a number of eyebrows and caused a political stir, in particular with the two major parties.

At the time of the announcement, Mr Barnett even told Mr Grylls to "take a cold shower" but the move may well just pay off.

Political analyst Professor David Black said the seat of Pilbara would be one to watch on Saturday night as it will define where the Nationals are at.

"To some extent it is a make-or-break election for them," Prof Black said.

"If Grylls doesn't win Pilbara and the Nationals lose a couple of other seats as well - I think the Nationals will be put back to where they were and that was a very small Coalition partner of the Liberals and very much the minor group and their future was very shaky."

Prof Black said this election had the potential to set the party back quite severely, particularly if the leader didn't win.

Prof Black also said it would be interesting to watch Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman and Mia Davies battle it out for their respective seats, as losses in those two seats would severely hurt the Nationals.

"From that point of view it is a make or break (election)," he said.

"But on the other hand if Grylls can win the Pilbara, that in itself will make a big difference.

"And then if they can hold a couple of the other shaky seats, then they would really be quite a strong force in government."

Prof Black said the Nationals were likely to win at least three seats with Wendy Duncan expected to win Kalgoorlie, Terry Waldron in Wagin and Vince Catania in North West Central.

He said if the party could win Pilbara, Central Wheatbelt and Warren-Blackwood it would be a "very potent force" within government.

"It is very likely no matter what happens that they will still have, even if only narrowly, the balance of power in the Legislative Council (Upper House)," he said.

"But it is an election which could leave the Nationals seriously weakened and with their future shakily back where it was a few years back, but on the other hand if Grylls can pull it off and if they could hold some of the other seats as well that would be a very big advantage.

"The key is Pilbara, because really what happens to Grylls will really have an impact on how influential they are in government."

Mr Black predicted the government would not change but said the first seat he would be looking at on election night would be Pilbara, followed by the seat of Morley.

"If Labor can't win Morley, then they certainly won't win the election," he said.

"And if Grylls loses it makes a big difference compared to if he wins, no matter what happens to the Nationals.

"What happens to Grylls is the crucial factor."

He said it would be interesting to see how Labor fared as a whole in the election and whether the party could hold its ground or lose more seats like it did in the 1996 election.

"I think the Liberals will quite easily win majority in their own right but the key part will be the relative strength of the Nationals and how much influence the Nationals will continue to have and that starts with Grylls," he said.

When asked about the Nationals relevance should the Liberal Party win enough seats to claim government outright, he said Barnett would no doubt include them in the ministry.

"They could finish with two ministers instead of three for a start," he said.

"They will still be relevant in that they will almost certainly have the balance of power in the Upper House.

"That is not absolutely guaranteed, but it is most likely, so they will be relevant to an extent.

"And I'm sure whether Barnett has the majority or not he will still include them in the ministry."

Key seats


Political analyst Professor David Black's predictions for key seats:


Kalgoorlie - "I would be very surprised if Wendy Duncan doesn't win because she has the support of John Bowler and the Labor party is also going to give her preferences, so I am assuming Wendy will win."

Eyre - "I think the Liberals will definitely win. The Labor party is preferencing them but also since Graham Jacobs has stopped being a Minister he has been able to look after the local constituents more and I can't see any prospect of Eyre changing."

Wagin - "Terry Waldron is absolutely guaranteed to get in."

North West Central - "I am assuming Vince Catania would win and Labor will come second which will mean the Labor preferences won't matter."


Kimberley - "I have no idea. In a way almost any one of the four candidates could win. All the four parties see themselves as having a decent shot. It very much comes down to preferences and depending on what order they finish in."

Collie-Preston - "It is going to be very interesting. I think if it wasn't for Mick Murray down there, Labor would probably lose the seat. This is a seat that Labor is hoping they can hold onto and I think Mick should win but at the same time it could be very tight."

Albany - "It was one that last time was predicted to go to Liberals, but somehow Peter Watson lasted. This time it looks even tougher for Peter. If Peter Watson wasn't there it would be a Liberal seat without any question. The only thing that keeps it on the radar is whether Peter can maintain that personal following. Albany is one that Labor would be very relieved if they could hold onto it."

Moore - "Moore is a seat I have heard virtually nothing about, but I am assuming the Liberals would win after the Labor's preferences. The only reason Grant Woodhams won was because of Labor's preferences. If the Nationals could win it would be a real bonus to them."

Warren-Blackwood - "On the basis of the preferences you wouldn't think Nationals would have a chance. The only thing is whether Terry Redman has built up sufficient personal support. He has obviously been a very successful minister as far as the party is concerned. If he can get a very strong primary vote he may just hang on, but it will be pretty tough because the preferences are all stacked against him.

"It is very similar to Albany in that on paper it is a Liberal seat, but the only thing is that the personal following could overwrite the preferences and they could still win."

Pilbara - "Pilbara is completely out of left field. It is a contest that we have never had before with somebody from outside the region coming into a seat that is seven per cent Labor and is seriously being talked about as winning."

Central Wheatbelt - "Normally the Nationals would consider this as in the bag, but for all sorts of reasons it could very possibly be won by the Liberals especially with preferences going the way they are."



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