Michael Keenan is the Minister for Justice as well as the Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Counter-Terrorism.
This is a safe Liberal seat and is unlikely to change hands at the election but may serve as a bellwether for voters on the Liberal Party's performance on issues of Justice.
Stirling is an inner-metro electorate covering the lower northern ‘burbs of the city of Perth,
The suburbs in the electorate include: Hamersley, Carine, Waterman’s Bay, North Beach, Trigg, Scarborough, Karrinyup, Gwelup, Stirling, Osborne Park, Joondanna, Tuart Hill, Yokine, Coolbinia, Inglewood, Morley, Dianella, Nollamara, Balcatta, Westminster, Mirrabooka and Balga.
Electorate redistribution to Stirling isn’t as significant as other WA electorates, with the loss of suburbs Innaloo and Doubleview to Curtin, and the acquisition of Dianella from Perth.
The electorate was named in the honour of Sir James Stirling, who was the first governor of Western Australia. The seat covers approximately 74sq kms, with 96,277 people enrolled to vote.
The current Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan, has held the seat since 2004. This year marks his twelfth in the seat, meaning he has broken the record of Liberal member Ian Viner who held Stirling for 11 years from 1972-83, and Harry Webb from Labor from who held it from 1961-72.
In 2013, on the two-party preferred results, Keenan defeated Labor candidate Dan Caddy with a 4.75% swing in his favour to claim 60.30% of the vote, which means the seat is considered to be a sure thing for the Liberals for now.
Keenan went to Murdoch University, Cambridge University and Australian National University. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours, as well as a Masters of Philosophy in International Relations.
He has been an active member in the Liberal Party in WA over the past couple decades, holding the role of Deputy Leader in 2000-01 and President of the Mount Lawley Liberal Branch in 2003-04.
Before his move into politics, Keenan was a property consultant at a real estate firm and an advisor for former South Australian Senator Amanda Vanstone.
History of Members
Since its inception in 1955 Stirling has been held by both Liberal and Labor members. The eight parliamentarians who have held the seat are:
- Harry Webb (Labor) – 1955-58
- Doug Cash (Liberal) – 1958-1961
- Harry Webb (Labor) – 1961-1972
- Ian Viner (Liberal) – 1972-1983
- Ron Edwards (Labor) – 1983-1993
- Eoin Cameron (Liberal) – 1993-1998
- Jann McFarlane (Labor) – 1998-2004
- Michael Keenan (Liberal) – 2004-present
Since 2004, when he took down Jann McFarlane, Keenan has held off challengers from Labor including former SAS Major and current WA Parliament member Peter Tinley in 2007, Louise Durack in 2010, and small business owner Dan Caddy in 2013.
According to his personal website, Keenan has listed his five priorities for the division in this election:
- Making the community a safer place
- Reducing graffiti and vandalism
- Protecting local jobs
- Improving local roads, and
- Supporting environmental projects
Highlighting crime statistics is likely to be a key tactic on both sides and as Keenan holds the portfolio for justice, his emphasis on reducing crime will come under the microscope as the election nears.
Infrastructure is also a hot topic. As discussions continue about improvement of busy roads running through the electorate, such as the Mitchell Freeway and Reid Highway. The last few elections have also seen talk about light rail options that are yet to materialise. Funding for public schools, job creation and support small/local businesses will be high on the agenda for not only Keenan, but for the other candidates to contest the seat.
Labor’s interest in moving towards a renewable energy future will be an interesting focus not only in Stirling, but in other WA electorates. The WA state government is looking to privatise energy company Synergy as a cost-cutting measure in order to reduce state debt, with no one really knowing if the sale will make power more expensive. A push for renewable and potentially more cost-effective energy may encourage voters to swing.
A national issue Australians face is the increase in focus on national security and keeping Australia safe from acts of terrorism. Given that Keenan’s role in the Turnbull cabinet is to try and combat these issues, as well as negate the ice epidemic, voters may keep the faith in Keenan and vote to keep him in the cabinet (if Liberal wins government) so he can continue to work on the issues at hand.