Canning byelection test set for September

The late Don Randall, former member for Canning. AAP/Alan Porritt

The Canning byelection, set to be a big marker for Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, has been scheduled for September 19.

Speaker Tony Smith announced the date for the byelection, caused by the death of Liberal member Don Randall in July. Nominations close on August 27.

While the Liberals hold the seat by a margin of 11.8% it will be hotly contested, given the Abbott government’s unpopularity and also the current low standing of the Liberal state government in Western Australia, which is likely to play into the campaign.

Some observers believe the swing could be softened by the byelection having been caused by a death rather than a member retiring prematurely, which particularly angers voters.

The Liberal Party has selected a 32-year-old soldier, Captain Andrew Hastie, to be its candidate. He reportedly had the support of Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. Labor has not yet chosen its candidate. The frontrunner for the Labor preselection is a lawyer, Matt Keogh. Other candidates are Lisa Griffiths and Kelly McManus. The candidate will be chosen on August 23.

Canning is in the southeast area of Perth. Labor ran Randall relatively close in 2010 when former state minister Alannah MacTiernan – who was subsequently elected for another federal seat – got 47.8% of the vote on a two-party basis.

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