As predicted, the WA election ended very well for the Libs. A significant increase in their majority, enough to govern alone, although they’ve said they’ll govern with the Nats irrespective of their margin. Which makes sense in terms of keeping the Nats on side for a potential third term.
As I noted yesterday, this isn’t exactly good news for Federal Labor, it will consume some column inches over the next few days, and even though it probably tells us little we didn’t already know about the Federal election (i.e. that Federal Labor are very unpopular in WA), the fact that the newspapers will spend time writing that and wondering about it will create a generally negative news cycle.
The Sky News exit poll tells us that “51 per cent of voters considered the performance of the federal Labor government to be an important factor in the way they voted.” And further, that “the most important factor was energy costs, which the exit poll found was important to 55 per cent of voters. The cost of living was rated important by 34 per cent, the carbon tax by 33 per cent, and the mining tax by 33 per cent.” The Australian.
None of that is great news for Federal Labor, but we should be clear that Western Australia is reasonably exceptional. Remember that a surprising proportion of the population would secede if they had the chance. The GST carve up infuriates them (as well it might), the stoush over the mining tax plays into that, as they feel that they lose GST revenue due to having mining royalties, but at the same time the Federal govt attempted to punish them when they put up the mining royalties. They see the carbon tax as an issue of pricing, and power prices across Australia have gone up a long way. Of course, that’s what a carbon tax is supposed to do – raise prices on things that involve CO2 emissions – but the Feds are trying to pretend that it’s not their fault (and, of course, that’s partly true – changes the states have made have also driven up power prices).
Overall, WA is a small govt sort of place, and our current Federal govt is a big govt sort of govt. I think there’s a couple of weeks of bad news in this cycle for the govt – between WA for a week or so, then a couple of weeks of parliament where not much will happen other than a phony election campaign. Outside of a major slipup by the Coalition, the next opportunity for a breakpoint for the govt is the budget. My guess is that the budget won’t be good for them, but it will be interesting to see what they come up with.