The candidates for the West Australian Senate election have been quick off the mark with opening statements on how they see the issues.
The Liberal Party, with the most to lose from the Senate rerun, came out hard against minor parties.
Julie Bishop said: “The outcome of this election will not mean a change of government and it won’t mean that the Liberal Party has control of the Senate. What we need to do is ensure that there is a strong representation from Western Australia inside the government. Labor Senators can’t deliver that, minor parties can’t deliver that, fringe dwelling parties can’t deliver that. That’s why we are asking the people of Western Australia to vote for a strong Liberal senate team so we have a voice at the table, and I know our Senators, our Liberal Senators will stand up for the State.”
At their press conference, Bishop and Liberal Senator David Johnson regretted the timing of the election, given that WA voters will be voting for the fourth time in 12 months, and tried to pin the blame on this election on The Greens as: “The only people calling for this election”.
Johnston also tried to tap into the general dislike and displeasure WA voters have towards the carbon and mining taxes.
At Labor’s launch, Bill Shorten focused on standing up to the Prime Minister, especially his “harsh and short-sighted cuts to health and education”. He also tried to make the focus of this election on state politics by linking the Abbott and Barnett Governments. This may have some merit, since during the week some backbench Liberal members let their disquiet be known on the shark culling.
In what could be a knockout blow, some media organisations have reported Labor withholding their preferences away from The Greens. This is a big change from the previous election where the ALP placed them second, and is seen by some as payback for The Greens preferring the Palmer United Party (PUP) ahead of Labor in 2013. Parties they are said to be preferencing above the Greens include the Shooters and Fishers, PUP, Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) and the Coalition. This position may result in unintended consequences, providing similar conditions to those in which Victoria’s Senator Fielding of Family First was elected with less than 2 per cent of the popular vote.
The Greens have come out fighting in a week topped by ‘that’ speech by Senator Scott Ludlum to an almost empty Senate chamber, yet managed to go viral. At the campaign launch he declared that to vote for The Greens was make sure the federal government does not take WA for granted. In his viral speech he was very scathing of Prime Minister Abbott, which has appeared to strike a chord with many voters, although whether this will translate into votes has yet to be seen.
Clive Palmer is pushing the line that a vote for the Palmer United Party gives WA the balance of power in the Senate and the ability to fight for a greater share of the nation’s wealth. This is intended to hit the state’s hot button belief that the WA does not get its fair share of the GST. He also announced that Des Headland, who ran in the 2013 election for the House of Representatives, will appear on their Senate ticket in the third spot.
Nominations for the Senate Election close at 12 noon Thursday March 13, so next week’s article hopes to have a comprehensive list of the “Fringe Dwellers” who made a good showing last year with the aid of controversial preference whispering.
As yet I have seen no political advertising, so if any reader has I would love to know. On a mini (unscientific) survey of friends and work colleges no one is changing their vote from last time, though more will vote below the line this time.