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Winning the West


You might say we’ve been lucky here in Western Australia.


An exceptionally popular Premier.


A (now former) Liberal Prime Minister who made some of the most extraordinary, and somewhat bizarre, errors we’ve ever seen.


A federal Labor leader who was prepared to show up and do the job, proving to Western Australians that he would be the partner we needed in Canberra.


But it doesn’t just come down to luck.


Off the back of a big state election win in 2017, the WA branch has continued to professionalise our campaign machine.


And it really is a well-oiled


machine.


We’ve run hundreds of hours of training for our campaigners right across the state. We set high local fundraising and door knocking targets. We have invested heavily in digital to get to voters where they are.


That work saw us secure the biggest majority government in Australian history in March 2021, when we re-elected the McGowan Labor Government for a second term.


Then, in May 2022, we achieved what many thought was impossible - four additional seats, and an extra Senator, for the Albanese Labor Government.


Western Australia delivered majority government with a primary swing of 7% and a two-party preferred swing of more than 10%.


For the first time, the Western Australian campaign was run by the state branch. A hyper local strategy, message and advertising campaign.


While WA has always been seen as a little different to our east coast friends, the past few years have made it especially so.


Border closures meant we felt even further away from the rest of the country, and that our experience at the start of the pandemic was markedly different.


That made it all the more important that our campaign was tailored to those unique circumstances.


And while the Labor campaign was talking to Western Australians about the issues that mattered to them, the Liberals repeatedly missed the mark.


By mid-2021, Scott Morrison had shown his true colours. Unwilling to take responsibility for steering the country at a time when we most needed leadership and unable to understand what it was that WA needed from the Prime Minister.


If there was one person Western Australians disliked more than Morrison, it was Clive Palmer.


When Morrison backed his High Court bid to open our borders at the height of the pandemic, he was in trouble.


In that moment, he lost the trust of hundreds of thousands of people here in the West.

Then, he called us cave people.


And week after week, Morrison and his Liberals continued their attack on WA.


Our campaign, highlighting Morrison’s failures, began long before the election was called. It was a sustained effort to remind Western Australians that Scott Morrison and the Liberals didn’t have our backs.


Significant and early investment in digital advertising meant that our message cut through to voters well before we knew the election date.


Our Digital Director, Henny Smith, replicated the ads effort from the 2021 state election – producing hundreds upon hundreds of ads, each with fresh creative but all with the same message: Scott Morrison backed Clive Palmer instead of WA.


And while our negative campaign ran online, our local campaign teams and candidates knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors.


Our strength was in our candidates. Local, diverse, and hardworking.


We knew their stories gave us an edge over our opponents.


Zaneta Mascarenhas in Swan, an engineer and local mum who grew up in the Goldfields.


Tracey Roberts was the local Mayor who, like many in the Pearce electorate, migrated to Australia from England with her young family and has been a local champion for decades.


Tania Lawrence, small business owner and, you guessed it, a local.


And of course, the surprise star of the Western Australian campaign, Sam Lim in Tangney. Western Australian Police Officer of the year, and a Malaysian Australian who had also worked as a dolphin trainer.


The local positive message was simple: send these locals to Canberra, so they can work with Anthony Albanese to stand up for WA.


It resonated with voters, who simply wanted an end to the drama of an incompetent Liberal government and instead wanted a Prime Minister who would work in partnership with Mark McGowan.


The results here in the West show that voters want a leader they can trust. Someone who has their best interests at heart. A leader who will stand up for WA.


Anthony Albanese has proven that he is that leader.


We can finally be free of the myth that Western Australian voters are more conservative than the rest of the nation.


With strong leadership, a hyper local campaign and excellent candidates, Labor can succeed in Western Australia.


And so, a bit of luck? Sure. But also, a lot of hard work.


Ellie Whiteaker was the Assistant State Secretary and Deputy Campaign Director at WA Labor for the 2021 State and 2022 Federal campaigns. She is now the State Secretary and Campaign Director.