News State Western Australia News Polls open as Labor seeks victory in WA election

Polls open as Labor seeks victory in WA election

WA Premier Colin Barnett and Labor leader Mark McGowan face off as voters head to the polls on Saturday. Photo: AAP
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After a five-and-a-half-week campaign, West Australians began arriving at polling booths across the state as they finally get to choose their government for the next four years on Saturday.

Opinion polls have been indicating voters are over Premier Colin Barnett and his Liberal government after more than eight years.

It looks likely Mark McGowan and Labor will emerge victorious on Saturday night.

The Labor leader Mark McGowan, arriving with his wife and three children at a polling booth in his electorate on Saturday, told reporters that he felt “excited” and energetic”.

Colin Barnett said he wasn’t going to talk about One Nation on voting day.

“It’s about the Liberal Party today so I am here to vote. It’s a happy day for me and that’s what we’re here to do. I don’t really care about Pauline Hanson or One Nation,” he told reporters.

The latest Newspoll shows Mark McGowan is firmly on track to replace Colin Barnett as West Australian premier after voter support for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation in the state plummeted.

The survey taken this week for The Australian shows Labor leading the Liberal-Nationals alliance by 54 per cent to 46 per cent in two-party-preferred terms.

Labor needs a swing of 10 per cent to win the extra 10 seats needed to win government.

Mr Barnett, 66, has acknowledged the “it’s time” factor is against him but says his government has much more to give.

“There’s a lot more to be done; exciting times to be had – don’t lose your nerve now,” he said on election eve.

“With Mark McGowan as premier Perth will become dull.”

Mr McGowan has maintained a cautious approach, saying getting the needed swings and winning the extra seats has never been done in WA before.

“For us to win is like climbing Mt Everest,” he told reporters while campaigning with WA Labor heavyweight Kim Beazley on Friday.

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will be in Perth on Saturday to lend support.

The Newspoll also showed One Nation’s primary vote across WA dived from 13 per cent to 8 per cent in just six weeks.

That dip came as the party came under scrutiny for its policies, choice of candidates and a controversial preference-swap deal with the Liberals.

Assuming a uniform swing, Labor would win 34 of the 59 seats in the lower house in Saturday’s election, ending Mr Barnett’s eight-year reign as premier, The Australian reported.

Mr McGowan remains the state’s preferred premier over Mr Barnett by a margin of 45 per cent to 37 per cent.

Meanwhile, Pauline Hanson has high hopes of getting five One Nation MPs into the WA parliament.

She has high hopes of winning the lower house seats of Kalgoorlie and Pilbara which is held by Nationals leader Brendon Grylls, as well three upper house seats.

It’s the first electoral test for One Nation since its stunning success at last July’s federal poll.

But the WA campaign has been dogged by internal criticism of the preference swap deal with the Liberals and claims of disunity and ageism.

Five candidates were dumped or quit but Senator Hanson is confident her team is now unified.

Labour leader Mark McGowan visits a Perth factory on Friday.
Labor leader Mark McGowan visits a Perth factory on Friday.

Polls open at 8am on Saturday and close at 6pm.

Almost 1.6 million people enrolled to vote for more than 700 candidates from 16 parties.

More than 180,000 early votes and 167,500 postal vote applications had been received by Friday morning.

– with AAP

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