The byelection for the Western Australian state seat of Darling Range was held on June 23. The Liberals’ Alyssa Hayden defeated Labor’s Tania Lawrence by a 53.3-46.7 margin, a 9.1% swing to the Liberals since the 2017 state election.
Primary votes were 34.4% Liberal (up 4.0%), 32.1% Labor (down 9.4%), 7.8% One Nation (down 0.9%), 5.8% Greens (down 1.8%), 5.8% for the new WA Party, 4.7% Christians (up 0.3%), 4.5% Shooters (up 0.3%) and 3.3% Animal Justice. Labor performed badly on preferences due to the larger right-wing minor party vote.
The byelection had been held after the former Labor MP, Barry Urban, had been forced to resign over allegations of fraudulent behaviour. At the 2017 election, Labor won Darling Range with a massive 18.9% swing. Given the circumstances of the byelection and some tendency for a correction after a large swing, the Liberals were expected to re-take Darling Range.
A ReachTEL poll for The West Australian, published just one week before the byelection, gave Labor a 54-46 lead in Darling Range. Polls for individual seats have had large errors in Australia. The seven-point error in this ReachTEL implies that polls of the July 28 federal byelection seats may not be accurate.
There have been many occasions where governments have suffered large swings against them at byelections, but won the next general election comfortably. It is likely that most of the swing against Labor was caused by the circumstances of Barry Urban’s resignation.