News State Western Australia News WA election: ALP takes power as voters abandon Colin Barnett

WA election: ALP takes power as voters abandon Colin Barnett

mark mcgowan
Mark McGowan, with his wife Sarah and his wife Sarah and children. Photo: AAP
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When new Western Australian Premier, Mark McGowan, arrived to deliver his victory speech after a stunning rout of the ruling Liberal-National Party government last night, he was greeted with rapturous applause and the raucous sounds of AC/DC’s TNT.  It was an apt choice of song.

For the WA Labor leader had just exploded Colin Barnett’s eight-and-a-half year rule with a landslide result that redrew the state’s electoral map.

Along the way he’d also significantly damaged Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, who fell well short of early expectations of success.

And there’s no telling what the win might do to the immediate political fortunes of the Turnbull government.

“I came here 27 years ago in my Corolla across the Nullabor, and today the people of Western Australia have made me premier. Thank you,” Mr McGowan said late on Saturday night, shortly after Colin Barnett conceded defeat.

“West Australians are hard-working, kind, friendly people, decent people,” he said.

“You deserve good government, and with my team I am committed to delivering just that.”

Stoic in defeat, despite suffering what is shaping up to be the biggest-ever swing against a sitting government in the state’s history, outgoing Premier Colin Barnett said time in office was the overwhelming factor in the dismal loss. He had led the government since 2008.

The Liberal Party could emerge from the election with as few as 11 seats in the 59-seat lower house.

Labor needed to win 10 additional seats to form government, but projections show the party could pick up as many as 21 to control up to 49 seats.

Mr Barnett congratulated Mr McGowan for winning Saturday’s election, and also thanked Liberal candidates and volunteers.

“We ran in my view a great campaign, there were a lot of factors out there, but at the end of the day, time was probably the factor,” he told supporters.

By 7.30pm, just 90 minutes after the polls closed, the outcome was clear.

If there was any doubt remaining it was dispelled by the sight of Mr McGowan downing his first glass of champagne just before 8pm.

The extent of the Liberal bruising was evident almost from the first votes, with early swings to Labor surging by more than 20 per cent in Perth’s northern suburbs. In Bunbury the swing was running as high as 21 per cent.

With almost 70 per cent of the vote counted, the Liberals had surrendered 16 per cent of their primary vote.

At least four Liberal ministers will lose their seats in parliament.

The government was not alone in its misery. One Nation’s confidence and optimism, which has characterised the party since its strong showing in last year’s federal election, was smashed and trampled.

Bitter at the result, Pauline Hanson blamed the WA Liberals, saying Barnett should have been dropped as leader before the election.

Widely tipped in February to claim as much as 13 per cent of the vote, Hanson’s mis-steps in the lead-up to polling day appear to have cost her party dearly.

After hailing Russia’s Vladimir Putin during last weekend’s train-crash interview with Insiders host Barrie Cassidy, she gave herself the old one-two punch by lending support and sympathy to the anti-vaccination movement.

Hanson later walked back on those comments, but by then the damage was done.

More than that, there was the impact of the controversial preference deal struck between One Nation and the Liberals, which appears to have been a case of both parties shooting each other in the foot.

Instead of the two-figure result party barrackers had been predicting, One Nation was struggling to reach 5 per cent.

Also licking his wounds is Nationals leader Brendon Grylls, who is facing a difficult battle to hold his Pilbara seat after a multi-million dollar campaign against him by mining companies that objected to his plan to inflate the levy charged to big miners Rio Tinto and BHP by 1900 per cent.

Mr Grylls is trailing Labor candidate Kevin Michel in the seat by a narrow margin. Late last night he said the result was still too close to call.

The Greens held their ground and picked up a little extra as well. With 50 per cent of the vote tallied, their share stood at nine per cent, a gain of 0.6 per cent.  In the seat of Nedlands, they grabbed 16 per cent.

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