Prime Minister Morrison sets out to find lost Liberals in Western Australia

The money Bishop raised – $200,000 a night from a typical dinner for 20 people – was available to be split among Liberal voters in Perth, as she had captured Curtin’s wealthy seat so successfully that she didn’t need money to hold it.

And there was Christian Porter, an all-faction player who many West Australians firmly believed would one day be Prime Minister.

Everything in the past. These days, much of the glamor is gone.

Fundraising and campaigning are problematic, with most local Liberal MPs and their staff squads being swept away. The factions have been in a simmering war after 700 pages of text messages between Clan members — including Cormann — leaked last September, gloating about legal branch-stacking adventures.

Bishop quit politics after the Boys’ Club ensured she was sidelined in the deal for Malcolm Turnbull’s premiership, won by Morrison.

Cormann, who backed Peter Dutton through the chaos, proving his famous counting skills weren’t spotless, is now in Europe as secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, trying to persuade nations to adopt a carbon tax, which he had spent much of his career opposing in Australia.

Loading

Christian Porter, former attorney general, his political promise in ruins after refusing to say who was behind a blind trust set up to pay his legal bills after a defamation case against the ABC, is also gone.

Anthony Albanese’s ALP, seeking seats that could change the upcoming federal election, senses an opportunity in the heavy absences of Morrison’s Liberal team in Western Australia.

Labor strategists believe they can clinch two seats: Pearcevacated by Porter, and Swan, also vacant with the retirement of Steve Irons, a Liberal who once shared a flat in Canberra with Morrison. They hope for a third, from the suburbs No chance next to Swan, occupied by a margin of 5.9% by Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt.

Indeed, hours after Morrison appeared at the convention center on Tuesday, Albanese deputy Richard Marles showed up at a TAFE in Hasluck to announce, along with ALP candidate Tania Lawrence, a promise of more $3 million for wind turbine training. facility.

Candidate for Hasluck Tania Lawrence, State Education Minister Sue Ellery and Deputy Labor Leader Richard Marles hold a press conference at North-Metro Tafe, Midland in the seat of Hasluck.Credit:Duncan Wright

Same Tangneythe seat of MP and Morrison confidant Ben Morton appears to be under pressure.

Notre Dame University politics and international relations professor Martin Drum has a theory that Labor is pursuing a smart strategy rather than a serious challenge to a seat that sits on a 9.5% margin .

During the last federal election, Morton was one of Morrison’s top strategists and had his eyes and ears on WA.

But with Labor pumping significant resources into the rapidly gentrifying electorate to help ALP candidate Sam Lim, a WA Police diversity engagement officer Morton says Drum will be linked to his electorate and unable to travel or help Morrison easily.

Labor may be on the hunt, but from the early days of the election campaign Albanese seemed to have a significant opponent in the west, and Morrison had an influential friend.

the Western Australia, owned by billionaire businessman Kerry Stokes, Seven West Media is Perth’s only local daily. Stokes also owns The Sunday Timesgiving the group a seven-day monopoly.

In the first week of the campaign, the newspaper’s front page openly taunted Albanese over his high-profile blunder on official interest rates and jobs figures.

“DOES HE KNOW HIS A*** FROM HIS ALBO?” shouted a front page.

On the other hand, the Western Australia devoted its front page on Monday this week to a photo taken by Morrison’s personal photographer showing the Prime Minister writing notes on his plane. ‘PM’S BLUEPRINT FOR PERTH’ screamed a huge headline, foreshadowing Morrison’s intention to praise WA’s ‘centrality to the national economy’.

A man reads The West Australian at the Dome Cafe, Midland, in the Hasluck headquarters.

A man reads The West Australian at the Dome Cafe, Midland, in the Hasluck headquarters.Credit:Duncan Wright

Next was “THE PM FOR HYDROGEN”.

On Wednesday, however, when Albanese made it known he would launch his formal election campaign in Perth – the first time for a major party, and a strong signal of Labour’s faith in the ability of the West – the Western Australia became parochial at full throttle.

“THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE,” it wrote on its front page, with a graphic showing a map of Western Australia eclipsing the planets.

“Yes, your vote means a LOT to Albo starting a campaign in WA,” the caption read.

Western Australia, of course, only started to emerge last month from the cocoon it had existed in for two years.

Masks are mandatory almost everywhere. To be served in a restaurant, you need a stamp on your arm proving your vaccination status before you can be served.

Western Australia, in short, is only beginning to adjust to the idea – exotic for locals – of living with a pandemic that most Australians have long become accustomed to.

And now they have a federal election forced upon them from the east.

Perth is a state capital of around 2 million people, fueled by the mining industry, but unless you’ve traveled the staggering distance of the Nullarbor, it’s hard to fathom just how isolated it is. To the west, across the Indian Ocean, is Africa. To the east, 2700 km away, the next capital is Adelaide.

St. Georges Terrace in Perth's CBD.

St. Georges Terrace in Perth’s CBD. Credit:Duncan Wright

This is a place that has always played by its own rules.

However, everything that came before became unrecognizable, at least politically, during the 697 days the rest of Australia and the world itself was kept apart to preserve the COVID-free life of the world. ‘West.

This is a place that has always played by its own rules.

The state’s Liberal vote plummeted in a way never before imagined in last year’s election, with the party stumbling with precisely two seats in the lower house of parliament.

The Labor Party, led by Premier Mark McGowan, whose insistence on keeping borders closed has earned it stratospheric approval ratings, emerged with 53 of the 59 seats in the Legislative Assembly.

What remains unknown, and causing sleepless nights for Liberal strategists, is whether Liberal voters who ditched their party for Labor last year will return in sufficient numbers to restore some dignity to the Liberal name in the coming federal elections.

That’s why when Scott Morrison came to the Perth Convention Center to deliver his keynote address to the movers from WA’s House of Minerals and Energy, he briefly and deliberately turned away from his written notes to deliver a carefully crafted message.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia Perth Convention Centre.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia Perth Convention Centre.Credit:James Brickwood

“Don’t kid yourself about it,” Morrison told the miners at the off-the-cuff moment. “Federal work under Anthony Albanese is not the same as state work under Mark McGowan. They are two completely different things. They have very little in common, especially when it comes to those important economic issues that are important to the future of Western Australia.

Labor’s decision to launch its campaign in Perth will therefore help to blunt Morrison’s attempt to persuade Western Australians to differentiate between the ‘good’ McGowan and the ‘bad’ Albanian.

It will mean McGowan standing in the spotlight alongside Albanese and loudly declaring that they have the Labor Party and its values ​​in common.

Meanwhile, Morrison has another pressing problem.

In what has been one of Metropolitan Australia’s most secure liberal strongholds – the former and immensely wealthy seaside seat of Julie Bishop Curtine – a woman from a powerful Liberal dynasty in Perth is portraying herself as an Independent, doing her best to end the Liberal Party’s historic hold on the electorate.

Independent for Curtin, Kate Chaney at a supporters meeting in Claremont Quarter.

Independent for Curtin, Kate Chaney at a supporters meeting in Claremont Quarter.Credit:Duncan Wright

Kate Chaney is the granddaughter of Sir Frederick Chaney, Minister for the Navy in the Menzies government and later Lord Mayor of Perth. His uncle, Fred Chaney Jnr, was a cabinet minister in Malcolm Fraser’s government and deputy leader of the federal Liberal Party under Andrew Peacock. Her father is Michael Chaney, former chancellor of the University of Western Australia, former chairman of NAB and current chairman of Wesfarmers.

Kate Chaney herself has quite the resume: corporate lawyer, MBA, head of Indigenous affairs and sustainability at Wesfarmers, and director of innovation and strategy at Anglicare.

And just like prominent independent candidates in Melbourne and Sydney’s eastern suburbs, Chaney wants to get rid of a sitting Liberal MP.

In her case, it’s backbencher Celia Hammond, a former vice-chancellor of Notre Dame University, who was originally backed to represent Curtin by Cormann and The Clan, much to Bishop’s annoyance. .

Loading

Chaney’s biggest problem in this bluest Liberal seat is that last year, she says, she woke up at 4 a.m. and decided she needed to explore the political system. She joins the Labor Party.

She says she only attended one breakfast where Labor’s Penny Wong was the guest speaker, and decided “it was just more of them like us and them”. Yet she knows it will be used against her.

Surrounded by supporters wearing her aqua (“not teal, aqua”) T-shirts, she says she never imagined a career in politics, but having worried for years about inaction on climate change , she decided when approached “if not me, then who”.

Which may well be Scott Morrison’s own mantra as he seeks to restore the liberal brand to a state that, from some angles, appears to have almost abandoned it.

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the most important and interesting stories, analysis and ideas of the day. register here.

Comments are closed.