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Issue #1770      March 22, 2017

Mining boom Premier bites the dust

Although the election date was officially called on February 1, speculation about the March 11 date had been known for some time and political forces in Western Australia had been campaigning unofficially for months in anticipation of political change.

Richard and Nationals polling day volunteer Paul.

On March 11, that change arrived emphatically with a majority to the Australian Labor Party led by Mark McGowan, the member of the Lower House seat of Rockingham WA.

On current projections the ALP will have 40 seats in the 59-seat Legislative Assembly chamber. The Liberals lost 18 seats to the ALP – the ALP even winning seats that they did not expect to win as part of the 15% swing against the Liberals state-wide and swing towards the ALP of about 9%.

The swing against the Liberal Party came in a large part from the preference deal which the Liberal leader Colin Barnett and the party machine did with One Nation Party. The preference deal alienated many Liberal Party voters who believed that Pauline Hanson was a political pariah who did not represent their views and to those One Nation Party voters who would have voted for One Nation as they believed the Party was above doing political deals.

On election day One Nation received less than 5% of the vote, which is far from the 14% predicted by a poll before the election. The ramifications nationally of the WA result are significant in that it shows the fragile nature of the appeal which One Nation has over their supporters.

The Greens WA maintained their share of the primary vote at 8.5% and election night saw their mixed fortunes play out in seats across the state, where the vote went up for the Greens in some seats from the previous election while it went down in others.

The Greens vote was higher in the metropolitan area on average than it was in regional areas of WA – though three electorates bucked this trend; two in the south west, Vasse 13.3% (Busselton), Warren-Blackwood (Manjimup-Pemberton) and Kimberley 9.9% in the far north.

One issue that figured large in the campaign in regional WA as well as the urban areas was the issue of the privatisation of Western Power with which most voters were uncomfortable and rejected the Liberals push for the partial sale of the state asset which should be retained as it belongs to the people and generates income for the state.

The perceived arrogance of the Liberal leader Colin Barnett was a factor which turned people away from the Liberal Party and the parlous state of the government’s finances (a record state deficit of $33 billion) and the economy with high levels of unemployment. Barnett was the mining boom Premier.

On election night Premier Colin Barnett gave his concession speech in which he said that despite running a great campaign, “Time was not on our side.” Barnett also prided himself on “providing long term stable and ethical government.”

At the forefront of issues is the Roe 8 Freeway extension and destruction of Beeliar wetlands. The Premier elect, Labor’s Mark McGowan, has reiterated that he will terminate the contracts for this extravagant, wasteful and unwanted infrastructure project.

Next article – Make Black Lung History

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