La­bor to re­build Gold­fields sup­port

Kalgoorlie Miner - - NEWS - An­drew Brosnan

Mark McGowan con­cedes WA La­bor’s pres­ence in the Gold­fields has de­te­ri­o­rated and the party faces a hard road to win it back in 2017.

On a visit to Kal­go­or­lie-Boul­der this week, the Op­po­si­tion Leader de­clared his shadow cabi­net would pay fre­quent vis­its to the re­gion af­ter be­ing no­tice­ably ab­sent dur­ing the last elec­tion cam­paign.

The Gold­fields was once con­sid­ered a La­bor strong­hold — for the best part of a cen­tury, the party en­joyed an al­most un­in­ter­rupted reign in the dis­trict of Kal­go­or­lie.

But the party has not held a seat in the re­gion since it parted ways with then Murchi­son-Eyre MP John Bowler, who even­tu­ally shifted to Kal­go­or­lie and ran a suc­cess­ful cam­paign as an in­de­pen­dent.

The sole La­bor rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Gold­fields is Mem­ber for Min­ing and Pas­toral Stephen Daw­son. The 2013 State Elec­tion proved to be a dis­mal af­fair for La­bor as the Lib­eral-Na­tional Gov­ern­ment romped to vic­tory, and the re­sult in the Gold­fields was no dif­fer­ent.

La­bor can­di­date Ter­rence Win­ner col­lected just 19 per cent of the pri­mary as the seat played host to a two-horse race be­tween Lib­eral Melissa Price and even­tual win­ner Wendy Dun­can.

The party’s cam­paign be­came back­ground noise amid the con­test be­tween Ms Dun­can and Ms Price, which Mr McGowan at­trib­uted to a num­ber of fac­tors.

“There were cir­cum­stances last time that made it very dif­fi­cult for us, re­lated to the former Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment and all the is­sues go­ing on there,” he said.

“The State Gov­ern­ment ba­si­cally blew the books in or­der to win the last elec­tion… we were out­spent out here.”

Pre-se­lec­tion of La­bor’s can­di­date for Kal­go­or­lie will be­gin in early 2016, with the nom­i­nee likely to chal­lenge Ms Dun­can.

The Lib­eral Party will have to go through the same process, with Ms Price now the Fed­eral Mem­ber for Du­rack. With pref­er­ences taken in- to ac­count, Ms Dun­can com­manded 56.3 per cent of the vote in 2013.

It is not a re­sult lost on Mr McGowan, but the Op­po­si­tion Leader re­mains op­ti­mistic of re­gain­ing some of the sup­port La­bor has lost over the years.

“(The Gold­fields) will al­ways be im­por­tant and I think there’s a residue of strong sup­port here for us,” he said. “For vary­ing rea­sons, some be­yond our con­trol, (our pres­ence) hasn’t been as strong re­cently as it was — I in­tend to re­build it.”

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