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One Nation hunting votes in eastern electorates

ONE Nation is fielding a host of candidates in the eastern suburbs for the State Election, with analysts forecasting voters in the region will play a key role in deciding which party wins office on March 11.

Murdoch University politics and policy lecturer Ian Cook said voters in the seats of Forrestfield, Swan Hills, West Swan, Midland and Kalamunda would be influential.

“This area is going to be decisive in the election, as it contains three of the 10 seats Labor needs to win and Kalamunda is just outside,” he said.

“Given Labor needs a 10 percent swing to gain office, and the Libs hold Kalamunda by 10.5 per cent, we’ll be watching Kalamunda closely too.’’

Liberal member for Kalamunda John Day will contest his seventh election up against Labor candidate Matthew Hughes and One Nation’s Ray Gould. Dr Cook said he expected One Nation to be a force in the eastern suburbs.

“One Nation preferences against sitting government members which will add to the swing against the government,” he said.

“Swan Hills and Kalamunda might have more One Nation supporters, mostly because the further from the city you get the more likely you are to find One Nation supporters.

“The major question is whether One Nation can remain stable and not descend into something of a rabble.”

Liberal MP Frank Alban, who holds Swan Hills by a 5.9 per cent margin is up against One Nation’s Sandra Old and Labor’s Jessica Shaw.

In Midland, Dr Cook said he was certain Labor would retain the seat despite Michelle Roberts holding it by just 0.1 per cent.

“I think in Midland we will see an increased Labor vote and it is unlikely to go to the Liberals,” he said.

Mrs Roberts and Liberal candidate Daniel Parasiliti are old political rivals who will battle it out for a second time following a nail-biting finish at the last state election.

In 2013, Mr Parasiliti, a City of Swan councillor, threatened to overthrow Mrs Roberts who has comfortably held the safe Labor seat since 1996.

Forrestfield remains one of the Liberal Party’s most vulnerable seats. It is held by Liberal Nathan Morton, who wrested the seat from Labor with a 2.2 per cent margin in the 2013 election.

Labor has endorsed Stephen Price to contest the seat while One Nation has chosen Shaun Reid.

This month in an election guide blog, ABC election analyst Antony Green said changes to the electoral boundaries post-2013 meant the seat of West Swan, held by Labor’s Rita Saffioti since 2008, had become a notional Liberal seat.

According to Mr Green’s calculations Labor holds West Swan by just 0.9 per cent. Ms Saffioti will contest the seat against Liberal candidate and City of Swan councillor Rod Henderson and One Nation’s Tony D’Angelo.

Mr Green said the electoral success of One Nation in 2001 played a part in the defeat of Richard Court’s government.

“The success of One Nation at the 2016 Federal Election, plus evidence in recent polls, suggests the party could be a major player in the WA State election,” he said.

But Dr Cook said he expected Labor to emerge victorious on March 11.

“Cost of living and economic management will be important everywhere, but outer suburbs tend to react more strongly to economic issues and that will be the case for the electorates on the fringe.

“The economic signs in Perth aren’t good and the government will get the blame, even when a lot of it has nothing to do with the Barnett Government.”

By Sarah Brookes

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