Darling Range by-election: Race on to secure preferences ahead of June 23 vote
Western Australia Party candidate Russell Goodrick and party convenor Julie Matheson want a better GST share for WA. (ABC News: Jessica Strutt)
Western Australia’s major political parties are working behind the scenes to secure preference deals for the upcoming Darling Range by-election, after an unusually high number of minor parties joined the race.
The outer Perth electorate has been forced to the polls around 15 months after Labor’s landslide election victory, because of the resignation of disgraced former MP Barry Urban.
Eleven candidates have been confirmed for the poll, with the Western Australia Party candidate — former newsreader Russell Goodrick — securing the coveted top spot on the ballot paper.
The party, which pushes an agenda to secure a better GST share, has been keen to capitalise on the attention surrounding the election, which has so far been dominated by questions over the credentials of candidates.
“I do have a Logie, and I can show it to you,” Mr Goodrick joked.
“I don’t have an MBA.”
Mr Goodrick claimed both major parties had been in contact with the WA Party, as the timeframe for negotiations was limited.
“We are after a preference with major parties, for a better share of the GST pie,” the party’s convenor Julie Matheson said.
“It’s important that it doesn’t come as a lemon, with top-ups that we can’t use to pay down debt or fund education, health and law enforcement.”
WA Labor Party state secretary Matt Dixon said Labor had been in contact with Mr Goodrick and “a number of other political parties” after the ballot was drawn last Friday.
Mr McGowan said his focus was on ensuring Labor’s candidate Tania Lawrence claimed the seat. (ABC News: Jessica Strutt)
“[Premier] Mark McGowan has been a strong advocate for getting a better deal on the GST funding, and Labor leader Bill Shorten has already committed to a Fair Share for WA fund,” Mr Dixon said.
On Monday, Mr McGowan was in the Darling Range electorate, spruiking a 10-year funding agreement with the Araluen Botanic Park, joined by his party’s candidate Tania Lawrence.
But the Premier also remained tight-lipped about party preferences.
“We’re very focused on lifting the vote for the Labor candidate because she’ll be a great voice in the Labor Government,” Mr McGowan said.
“That’s our main focus when the party undertakes those sorts of discussions and negotiations.”
The WA Liberals state director Sam Calabrese said while the party had been in contact with the Western Australia Party, their discussions had not been about a potential preference deal.
“The Liberal Party is not negotiating preferences, however we have had discussions to better understand the views and priorities of candidates to determine our suggested ballot order,” Mr Calabrese said.
Regardless, the scramble to secure preferences will have to be decided and revealed quickly, with early voting for the June 23 poll opening on Wednesday.