13/03/2021 - 18:24

Regional WA has top-tier contests

13/03/2021 - 18:24

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Regional electorates will be particularly interesting to observe this evening, with Kalgoorlie, Collie-Preston, Geraldton and Albany all figuring as top-tier contests.

Mick Murray

Regional electorates will be particularly interesting to observe this evening, with Kalgoorlie, Collie-Preston, Geraldton and Albany all figuring as top-tier contests.

Mr McGowan’s popularity is generally thought of as insurmountable in metropolitan Perth, where close to three-quarters of Western Australians live.

Labor’s polling lead may not translate to the regions, though, where voters may have faced harsher economic challenges as a result of border closures.

Kalgoorlie, which is dependent on a fly-in, fly-out workforce to support its local industry, could fall to The Nationals tonight, with former independent state member-turned-mayor John Bowler endorsing the party’s local candidate, Rowena Olsen.

No incumbent has held the seat for more than a single term since former opposition leader Matt Birney retired in 2008, and Kyran O'Donnell may yet struggle to retain it for the Liberals after picking it up in 2017.

Elsewhere, Labor and The Nationals are gearing up for a rematch in Geraldton, with Ian Blayney, who defected from the opposition in 2019, likely hoping that his personal brand will get him over the line.

Interestingly, a win in Geraldton would mean The Nationals will have won every state electorate that overlaps with the federal electorate of Durack, currently held by Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price.

If Mr Blayney retains the seat this evening, that may give the party a morale boost to campaign for Durack at the next federal election.

In the state’s south, Collie-Preston appears a safe bet for Labor after Mr Kirkup announced support for a rapid transition to green energy in February.

Mick Murray, who won the seat with incredibly thin margins for two decades, is retiring, with a three-cornered contest emerging to replace him.

The opposition’s chances in this seat appear slim at this point given Collie is still quite reliant on its coalmining industry, with bad fortunes bleeding into the neighboring electorate of Murray-Wellington.

That seat was won by Labor by a tight, 1 per cent margin in 2017, and may yet slip out of the Liberal’s grasp again if the opposition’s green energy policy turns out to be a “lemon”, as described by Andrew Hastie.

Wayne Sanford, a former shire president in Collie and candidate for Labor at the 2019 federal election, could yet win the seat, though, assuming he can hold back growing support for the state government.

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