The West Australian exclusive

Federal election 2022: Independent Kate Chaney on track for narrow victory in blue-ribbon seat of Curtin

Lanai Scarr The West Australian
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The West Australian can reveal the electorate — formerly held by Julie Bishop for almost 21 years — will go to ‘teal’ independent Kate Chaney, who is preferred 52-48 on a two-party-preferred basis.
Camera IconThe West Australian can reveal the electorate — formerly held by Julie Bishop for almost 21 years — will go to ‘teal’ independent Kate Chaney, who is preferred 52-48 on a two-party-preferred basis. Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian

The Liberal Party is on track to lose the blue-ribbon seat of Curtin, according to a new poll days out from the Federal election.

The West Australian can reveal the electorate — formerly held by Julie Bishop for almost 21 years — will go to “teal” independent Kate Chaney, who is preferred 52-48 on a two-party-preferred basis.

The Utting Research polling in the prize seat was conducted among 514 voters on Monday.

On primary votes Liberal incumbent Celia Hammond gets 38 per cent of the vote, ahead of Ms Chaney on 32 per cent, Labor’s Yannick Spencer on 13 per cent and the United Australia Party’s Ladeshia Verhoeff’s 3 per cent.

The poll was conducted by Utting Research, which is led by managing director John Utting, the former long-time pollster for the Federal Labor Party.

The poll was conducted by Utting Research, which is led by managing director John Utting, the former long-time pollster for the Federal Labor Party.
Camera IconThe poll was conducted by Utting Research, which is led by managing director John Utting, the former long-time pollster for the Federal Labor Party. Credit: The West Australian

The poll suggests support for Ms Chaney has surged as the campaign has worn on. A poll published on April 4 put her primary vote at just 24 per cent and Ms Hammond’s at 42 per cent. That gave the Liberal a narrow 51-49 two-party-preferred lead.

Curtin has only once been held by an independent, Allan Rocher, who lost preselection for the Liberal Party but still retained the seat in the 1996 election.

He was eventually beaten by Ms Bishop after just one term as an independent.

In January, former foreign minister Ms Bishop said it was possible Ms Chaney, the granddaughter of former Menzies government minister Sir Fred Chaney, could win.

“In these circumstances when the Liberal Party base is divided — as it will be in this case because Kate Chaney comes from a very strong Liberal background and is a competent business woman and a great contributor — it will split the Liberal party base and depending on how the numbers flow and how the preferences flow we have seen an independent beat a sitting Liberal in the past,” Ms Bishop said.

Ms Chaney admitted in her first interview with The West Australian she briefly joined the Labor Party last year.

Climate change and integrity in politics will be the two main issues she will fight for if elected and she is partly funded by the Climate 200 movement.

Curtin is held on a margin of 13.9 per cent, which is usually seen as safe, but the optics of the Liberals losing the prized seat will dent the Coalition’s confidence in the final days of the campaign.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has not actively campaigned there, visiting it just once to lay a wreath with Ms Hammond.

In The West’s latest polling, Ms Chaney had a 52 per cent approval rating, compared to Ms Hammond’s 44 per cent.

Only 22 per cent of people disapproved of Ms Chaney compared to 32 per cent for Ms Hammond.

Ms Hammond is a former vice-chancellor at Notre Dame University and has a significant stronghold in the community.

During pre-selection for the electorate ahead of the 2019 election, she was not the choice of Ms bishop but was the pick of former finance minister now OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann.

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