A house of cards

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Labor Minister Alannah MacTiernan is fighting fit after beating cancer.
Camera IconLabor Minister Alannah MacTiernan is fighting fit after beating cancer. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The Sunday Times, Jackson Flindell

Final-vote counting in the Upper House is proving a nailbiter which will either give Labor an unprecedented four South West members or send a Legalise Cannabis WA candidate to Parliament House.

With 20 per cent of likely votes still to be counted as the Times went to press, Labor’s quota was stuck on 3.99 — 0.01 short of the count needed for four candidates.

And preference flows among minor parties obliterated during Mark McGowan’s red landslide were piling up on pro-medicinal cannabis advocate and traditional Chinese medicine practitioner Sophia Moermond.

The Upper House below-the-line voting system was criticised for its quota system, which unseated Greens first-termer Diane Evers — with Greens preferences ironically going to Legalise Cannabis WA despite the five-month-old party scoring less than 2 per cent of the initial vote.

As of Wednesday noon, Labor had already scored a win for third-ticket candidate Jackie Jarvis, of Cowaramup. The winery owner would join Labor veterans Sally Talbot and Alannah MacTiernan representing the South West in Parliament.

Early calculations, which could still change, meant retired South West Nationals MLC Colin Holt’s replacement, City of Bunbury councillor James Hayward, snared the sixth and final Upper House position, while MLC Steve Thomas was the only shoo-in for the Liberals.

Election analyst William Bowe, from the Poll Bludger site, said the make-up of the final votes in the tally would determine exactly who came out on top.

“The first four seats will clearly go three Labor and one Liberal, and the last two are a game of musical chairs between Legalise Cannabis, the Nationals and Labor, in which one will have to miss out,” he said.

In the arcane system, parties needed 14.29 per cent of the vote after preferences to win a spot.

“As I type, Legalise Cannabis is on 14.46 per cent, the Nationals are on 14.25 per cent and the fourth Labor candidate is on 14.15 per cent,” he said.

Signwriter John Mondy was the fourth on Labor’s ticket, and like Ms Jarvis, a serial candidate in past elections now facing the real prospect of a new life in politics.

Greens preferences flowed to Legalise Cannabis ahead of Labor, and the rural Shooters, Fishers and Farmers preferences went to the pro-weed party ahead of the Nationals too.

And as ousted MLA Terry Redman noted, voters punishing the Liberals also denied the Nationals precious preference flows.

The surge in support for Labor showed last year’s ugly preselection tiff made no difference at all.

The scuffle saw 19-year Labor veteran Adele Farina dumped to allow Ms MacTiernan, the Regional Development Minister, hitch a ride on the quota system for a safe Upper House seat nominally based in her second home in Albany.

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