Barnett back with 9pc swing

11 Mar, 2013 03:00 AM
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UPDATED: WA LIBERAL Premier Colin Barnett has been returned for a second four year term after a landslide victory in the State election at the weekend, boosted by a significant swing of almost 9 per cent.

With votes still being counted Sunday morning, the Liberal-National alliance had claimed about 40 seats in the Lower House.

The ALP was facing a nine seat loss - including surrendering its heartland electorate of Perth to the Liberals - to fill the remaining 19 positions.

The Liberals and Nationals should also retain control of the Upper House with 21 of the 36 seats.

Political analysts said the federal party’s poor performance had an undeniable impact on the poor result for WA Labor, while highlighting the Green vote dropped substantially, potentially losing two of its four Legislative Assembly seats.

The WA result follows landslide victories at recent State elections in Qld, NSW and the NT, where voters dumped Labor in favour of Liberal and National party governments.

In claiming victory, Mr Barnett said there was fundamentally no mood for change in the electorate and congratulated his opponent and WA Labor Mark McGowan on running an energetic and competitive campaign.

He said the party now had some immediate challenges to address in running the State, including dealing with issues facing struggling farmers in the eastern Wheatbelt.

Mr Barnett also congratulated WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls and his Party on their election successes and committed to retain the power-sharing alliance formed after the 2008 election, when the Nationals claimed the balance of power and implemented its $1 billion per year Royalties for Regions program.

“They have been wonderful partners in government with the National and Liberal Party working together,” he said.

“This government has been a good government.

“We have been strong on the economy.

“We have been principled, we have been ethical, we have been hard-working and we have achieved for this state across cross a wide range of portfolios, strong on the economy, fantastic reforms in education and health.”

Mr Gryll’s bold move to win the northern Pilbara seat off Labor looks likely to pay off, while Mia Davies will ensure the leader’s former Central Wheatbelt seat remains National.

With about 60pc of the vote counted, Mr Grylls had achieved a positive swing his of about 18pc while Labor suffered a negative swing of about 15pc.

West Australian Agriculture Minister Terry Redman looks likely to hold onto his southern electorate now, following an update on counting in the weekend’s state election.

Speaking to media Sunday morning, senior WA Liberal and federal deputy-leader Julie Bishop said the ALP brand was severely damaged in her home state.

Ms Bishop said the Barnett government had proven to be competent, had won the trust and confidence of the WA people and deserved another term.

But she said if ever there was a state election that had federal implications, “this was it”.

Ms Bishop said the Labor government’s carbon tax and mining tax were extremely unpopular in WA, as was Julia Gillard’s poorly timed “attack” on foreign workers, announcing changes to 457 visas during the closing stages of the WA election campaign.

She said federal Labor went to “extraordinary lengths” to keep Ms Gillard out of WA during the campaign and the carbon tax and mining tax are “inexorably” linked to state issues.

Ms Bishop said although Labor only had three federal seats in WA, her party would consider the federal implications and “look closely” at results from the State election like the swing of 10.5 percent against Labor in the seat of Perth.

Speaking on Sky TV Sunday morning, former WA Labor premier Geoff Gallop said Mr McGowan should remain party leader to provide stability and develop policies that appealed to WA voters and helped rebuild trust.

Mr Gallop said he was also extremely disappointed about the diminished Labor vote in WA’s regional areas, which he worked hard on during his time in office.

He said the WA Nationals have been effective politically in claiming the rural vote at recent elections - but questioned how effectively they delivered “on the ground”.

Mr Gallop said at the moment the ALP doesn’t have the trust of the WA people and needed to build policies over time to regain that trust.

He said current election results in Australia reflected an underlying issue with the Labor party, with voters not trusting how they operated and changed tact on policy decisions.

“In every election Labor has got to battle because of this trust problem,” he said.

Federal Liberal backbencher Christopher Pyne said the WA landslide result had significant federal implications for Julia Gillard and Labor.

He said exit polls out of the WA election showed that about 50 per cent of voters attributed the federal government’s performance as a factor when casting their votes.

“Anybody who tries to deny it is living in the bubble that we've come to expect many members of the federal Labor Party to live in.”

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FarmOnline
Colin Bettles

Colin Bettles

is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media

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