Labor to rebuild Goldfields support
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.”