In what is looking like a historic bloodbath for the WA Liberals, even Ken Wyatt is expected to sensationally lose his seat.
The nation’s first Minister for Indigenous Australians had managed to previously stare down many challenges to continually retain the electorate of Hasluck, which he has held since 2010.
But late on Saturday night Labor challenger Tania Lawrence held a strong 55-45 advantage. While Labor had nominated Hasluck as a target early in the its campaign the seat was not widely viewed as a serious chance of turning red, based largely on Mr Wyatt’s personal popularity as a well-known and respected local member.
Thirteen years ago Mr Wyatt became the first Aboriginal person to be elected to Australia’s Lower House.
Ms Lawrence suggested Scott Morrison’s tenure as prime minister caused Liberal backlash among voters and contributed towards her likely victory.
“Scott Morrison has been a very divisive person and I don’t think Australia wants to go down that pathway,” Ms Lawrence told The Sunday Times. “I think Australians want to feel unified and we want to stand together, we want to be a country that we can all be proud of. I don’t think he’s the man for us.”
Ms Lawrence said Premier Mark McGowan’s extraordinary popularity in WA also helped.
Aged care, climate action and cost-of-living pressures were the key issues that Ms Lawrence said would be her priority in Canberra.
Prior to politics, Ms Lawrence served as a senior figure in the WA Department of Premier and Cabinet as well as Woodside energy, before becoming a small business owner.
Speaking before polls closed, Mr Wyatt said Australians faced a clear choice.
He also dismissed polls that had said his seat was hanging in the balance.
“Australians will be thinking about what it means to them with an Albanese government,” he said.
“Because under Albo, we have seen him commit to an $8 billion (higher spend than the Coalition).
“Having sat in Cabinet, I’m very curious as to what programs and services he is going to cut, or what taxes he is (going to introduce).”
Both Mr Wyatt and Ms Lawrence spent polling day blitzing booths in Ellenbrook.
It’s the first time the battler suburb has been included in Hasluck, following a redistribution that increased Mr Wyatt’s margin from 5.4 per cent to 5.9 per cent.
Campaigning in Hasluck earlier this month, Labor star Jason Clare said a victory for Ms Lawrence could spell the end for the Coalition Government. “This is a very important part of the world, it is a very important part of Australia,” Mr Clare, who has won praise for his work during the election, told The West Australian.
“If we win this seat at the election, we can change the government, we can change this country for the better.”
Mr Wyatt drew on the star power of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and ex-PM John Howard during his campaign, holding events with both in his fight to save his seat.
Ms Lawrence has been front and centre of Labor’s campaign in WA, regularly appearing alongside senior Opposition figures including Senator Penny Wong, deputy party leader Richard Marles as well as frontbenchers Matt Keogh and Jason Clare.