McGowan’s WA by-election seat to be leadership test

The leadership of West Australia’s new Labor premier Roger Cook is set to be tested as voters head to the polls for a by-election in former premier Mark McGowan’s seat.

Mr Cook’s popularity has crashed according to a recent poll that showed the Liberal party holds a 54 per cent to 46 per cent two-party preferred lead over Labor.

Despite this, Labor is expected to easily hold the seat of Rockingham, south of Perth, on Saturday but its healthy margin of 37.7 per cent could take a battering.

Political commentator Peter Kennedy says Labor has faced a “bumpy” road since Mr McGowan resigned in May citing exhaustion.

Controversial Aboriginal heritage laws, the rising cost of living and housing shortages have all taken a toll, he said.

Fractures have also emerged in the Labor Party in the Rockingham area after its candidate Magenta Marshall was selected.

Deputy Mayor of Rockingham Hayley Edwards felt locked out of the selection process and will run as an independent.

“Those things aren’t good in election climates,” Mr Kennedy told AAP.

The women will face off against Liberal Party candidate Peter Hudson.

He says Labor has neglected the seat in recent years and more needs to be done to support struggling residents.

Mr McGowan’s extraordinary popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic helped Labor secure the massive margin it currently enjoys but that is expected to be eroded.

“It’s a big test for both Roger Cook and (WA Liberal leader) Libby Mettam … It’s the first time they’ve gone head-to-head … and very important for both of them,” Mr Kennedy said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a big two-party preferred swing away from Labor … Somewhere around 20 per cent.

“But that would still mean it’s a safe Labor seat.”

Rockingham is a coastal community about 50 kilometres south of Perth city, with some 30,000 voters registered.

Mr McGowan was re-elected in 2021 with 82.7 per cent of first preference votes.


Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter.
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.