Andrew Hastie won a by-election on September 19, 2015, held after the previous sitting member, Don Randall, died in July 2015. The election was widely viewed as an indicator of the viability of Tony Abbott's leadership.
Canning is historically marginal, but has been held by the Liberals since 2001. Prevalent industries in the division include mining, agriculture, recreation, tourism and forestry. Hakea Prison in located in the electorate.
The electoral division of Canning is full of contradictions: it's largely urban north and a mostly rural south suggest opposing ideals and for most of the past 40 years, the seat has shifted between the Liberal and Labor parties.
Candidates for Canning in the 2016 federal election face the challenge of influencing all areas of the region’s diverse demographic spectrum, from the unemployed to the professional, the young to the old and the city to the country.
Over the last decade, Canning’s beloved MP Don Randall managed to keep the diverse division happy. His impressive five terms in office, and 11% margin, meant he had the opportunity to become well-acquainted with the conflicted electorate. A sprinkling of progressive votes in Parliament kept left-leaning constituents distractedly content, while a heavy dose of industry and anti-carbon tax fortified his support from the right. That is, until he suddenly died last year.
Randall’s death weighed heavily on the people in the Canning division and in the context of an unflattering federal leadership spill courtesy of the Libs, Canning residents found themselves, as so often before, conflicted.
Labor and Greens candidates Matt Keogh and Vanessa Rauland urged residents to show their discontent with the Liberal party’s antics by way of a vote to the left. Conversely, Liberal frontrunner Andrew Hastie represented the country values (read: old-fashioned, conservative) that had kept Randall firmly in power for more than a decade.
Randall was decidedly anti-Abbott, and was one the first Liberals to second the motion for a leadership spill. Newspoll showed the Coalition slide from a 62% to a 51% margin over the duration of the Canning by-election campaign that coincided with the federal leadership spill. Four days into the new Turnbull government, and perhaps en memoriam of Randall and his anti-Abbott agenda, Hastie triumphed with a sturdy 57% win.
In his seven months in office, Hastie has managed to address the majority of issues that concern the electorate, and has stayed consistent in his views. He was firm at election time that he would focus on local rather than federal issues.
Although it is allegedly not at the forefront of his office, Hastie’s federal influence is hugely important to Australia’s future. Hastie, as a devout Christian, a recently retired soldier and a family man mean his personal views could, quite feasibly, mirror Australia’s progression in the upcoming election.
Canning is home to some serious stuff: heavy industry and mining a-plenty resulted in the division’s resounding “no” to Labor’s unpopular, and revoked, mining tax.
Hastie’s adamant support of military intervention in the Middle East, positions him within an uber-conservative bracket, even for a WA Liberal. He has also vehemently opposed the Safe Schools sex-ed program and maintains inclusion of LGBQTI sex education is a “controversial sexual ideology”.
Hastie’s conservative and traditionalist views make him a favourite amongst older electors (49% of voters in the Canning division are over 50). Even so, while the Boomers may be happy, Canning’s young people are anything but.
Although just 10% of the Canning electorate’s population is under 25 years old, youth suicide has reached epidemic proportions. Matt Keogh surprisingly campaigned against the ALP’s massive funding cuts to drug, alcohol and mental health services in the by-election, Hastie has successfully distanced himself from his party’s unpopular slashes.
Drug and alcohol abuse, according to Hastie, are symptoms of Canning’s broader mental health issues. One month into his term, Hastie introduced his Canning Ice Action Plan - a broad-based drug prevention program implemented in primary school and stretching all the way to the workforce. In Mandurah alone, Hastie reported that 30,000 needles were being exchanged per month through the Needle and Syringe Program.
Hastie attributes Canning’s crime surge to the ice epidemic. Armadale crime rates have been ranked among the highest in Perth, with statistics revealing, on average, a daily home invasion, almost 550 assaults yearly and a car theft at least twice a week.
The massive division-wide issues of suicide, drug abuse and increased crime were folded neatly into one (very well-documented) meeting between Hastie, PM Malcolm Turnbull, and federal health minister Sussan Ley.
On top of the ice, there’s fire. Lots of it. Canning’s southern-most suburb of Waroona endured fatal fires early in 2016 that ravaged the community and razed the town of Yarloop. Although the Lord Mayor's Distress Relief Fund is “apolitical”, according to City of Perth senior manager of communications Michael Holland, previously content residents have been left homeless and injured - and in need of serious government aid.
Job creation is at the forefront of Hastie’s agenda, with Canning home to a whopping 6.5% unemployment rate - figures that have doubled since 2013. The introduction of the Transform Peel project promises to kill two birds with the proverbial single stone for Canning: it will create 33,000 valuable jobs, and will develop the Peel region into a more desirable cultural hub for visitors.
In the past seven months, the electorate’s concerns have largely remained the same. But in that time, Hastie has managed to address these issues in a way that may ensure his seat’s safety in 2016 after a tight by-election a year earlier.
2016 Federal Election Canning candidates from other parties have not yet been announced.