Guest essay by Eric Worrall
If you alienate your base, don’t expect them to vote for you. Aussie green conservative leader Zak Kirkup even lost his own seat, after running on a platform of building the biggest jobs, renewable energy and export project in the nation, and vowing to shut down coal extraction.
WA election: McGowan government wins second term in Labor landslide as ‘disaster’ hits Liberals
By Rhiannon Shine
Posted Yesterday at 8:53pm, updated 7 minutes ago
Labor has won the West Australian state election with Mark McGowan returned as Premier for a second term, in what has been described as a “disaster” for the WA Liberal Party.
- The election was called for Labor less than 45 minutes after polls closed
- Liberal leader Zak Kirkup has lost his seat amid huge swings towards Labor
- The WA Nationals are set to hold more Lower House seats than the Liberals
In a devastating night for the Liberals, leader Zak Kirkup became the first WA major party leader to lose their own seat in 88 years, losing his own seat of Dawesville while declaring he took full responsibility for the party’s election wipe-out.
At this stage, the WA Nationals will hold more seats in the next State Parliament than the Liberal Party.
The Nationals will hold at least four seats in Parliament, while the Liberals cannot exceed that number after losing a swathe of seats in metropolitan Perth.
Labor scored a fast and overwhelming election victory as early figures showed massive swings towards Labor across the state.
Speaking less than 45 minutes after polls closed, the ABC’s chief election analyst Antony Green said given the Opposition would require a swing in its favour to win, it would not be able to win enough seats to form government.
What caused such a massive swing against the conservatives?
The victorious centre left West Australian Labor Party is spending cash on climate initiatives, but they are not scaring voters with wild promises or massive policy pivots. When West Australia’s EPA head sprang a surprise carbon offset requirement on heavy industry in 2019, Mark McGowan, leader of West Australian Labor, talked the EPA into backing down.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of McGowan’s green policies. But an overwhelming majority of West Australian voters believe he is doing a good job.
In addition, the McGowan government is widely perceived to have kept the state safe from Covid-19. West Australia’s Covid lockdowns were amongst some of the most aggressive in Australia. People credit the McGowan government’s aggressive lockdown and border closures with keeping Covid-19 out of West Australia, and rapidly containing any outbreaks which occurred.
It is likely given McGowan’s popularity there was no conservative path to victory on this occasion. But Zak Kirkup’s attempt to outflank the centre left McGowan government on climate policy was an unmitigated disaster. Even in Australia, where voting is mandatory, people who normally vote conservative took the opportunity at the poll booth to vent their anger against a joke opposition leader who took their party in a direction they did not recognise.