POLICY OUTLOOK: Western Australia, a State of Flux

On April 5, the W.A Senate re-election will determine the fate of Australia’s climate policy. Surprisingly, all may not be lost for the left.

With opinion polls indicating a significant swing against the government, a re-shaping of the Coalition’s 4-2 return from Western Australia in 2013 is all but assured. Moreover, a 3-3 split (left-wing vs. right-wing) is now considered the government’s best outcome, with impacts likely to be felt in the Senate.

The Liberal Party’s third right-wing seat shapes as a key battleground, with lower primary support for the Coalition likely to expose the seat to risk from the left, and from minor parties. Key factors are likely to put this seat at risk, notably:

  • A 6% swing against the Coalition
  • Tighter preference deals between left wing minor-major parties
  • Stronger ALP primary support
  • Increased traction for the Greens and the Palmer United Party in Western Australia.

In this Policy Outlook, we examine the impact of these conditions on election outcomes, and model our probabilities for the likely split of Senators by party. Analysis indicates potential for a ‘perfect storm’ to brew against the government, impacting the balance of power and voting behaviour in the new Senate from July 1.

Subsequently, we present our voting expectations by party and scenarios for the passage of key climate legislation over 2014, including the Carbon Tax Repeal Bill, the Renewable Energy Target and the CEFC and Climate Change Authority abolition – along with the government’s own Direct Action Plan-Emissions Reduction Fund.

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