By Andrew Bolt ~
The Liberal/National Coalition Government has been smashed in the Western Australian elections, held yesterday, and this will add even more pressure on the leadership of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
ABC election analyst Antony Green said he expected Labor to win as many as 41 seats, having needed just 30 to defeat the Barnett Government…
The National Party’s vote only fell slightly, but leader Brendon Grylls’s seat is still uncertain…
With more than half of the vote counted, the Liberals have lost almost 16 per cent of their primary vote — putting them on course to suffer the biggest-ever swing against a sitting government in WA.
It is also shaping as a disappointing night for One Nation, with Pauline Hanson’s party receiving just 4.7 per cent of the primary vote so far — less than half of what it had been projected to receive in pre-election polling just weeks ago.
But One Nation is polling slightly better in the Upper House and is still in the mix to win seats in that chamber.
- This election was, of course, decided on mainly state issues. Premier Colin Barnett had been there too long. He’d squandered much of the money from the mining boom, leaving the state deep in debt. He also faced a backlash over plans to privatise the state power generator at a time of nervousness over power supplies. His preference deal with One Nation made him seem desperate. His obvious embarrassment about defending that deal also made him look unprincipled.
- Commentators say the Liberals were tainted by making a preference deal with One Nation. Ironically, it was One Nation that was tainted by making the deal with such losers. Their vote was way under expectations because they seemed to join the mainstream parties.
- The Liberals’ vote didn’t crash because they swapped preferences with One Nation. They swapped preferences with One Nation because their vote had crashed. They were desperate to save seats.
- The preference deal was made to look worse because Pauline Hanson and her team campaigned so badly. But the results for One Nation are not so shabby for a first serious outing: One Nation may yet have a couple of seats in the Legislative Council. But Hanson will need to take far more seriously her selection of candidates, and prune her more extreme positions.
- Despite the above, this result is terrible for Malcolm Turnbull. His contribution was entirely negative. He is so unpopular that he campaigned for less than a day to save Colin Barnett, and succeeded only in humiliating him. Turnbull failed to back up a promise he’d made in his previous trip since months earlier to help give Western Australia a bigger share of the GST it was collecting. Barnett had been demanding this, and blaming WA’s poor share for his budget troubles. Turnbull left him looking without answers, money or friends in Canberra.
- The result will leave WA federal MPs particularly worried. A swing of 16 per cent tells them they are in a new paradigm, as we’ve already seen in Queensland and NSW. Voters don’t stick as they once did with the losers and the stay-too-longs. They swing big.
- Note that even though One Nation lost half the people attracted to it in earlier polls, those voters did not go back to the Liberals. They seem to go to Labor, which seemed to offer a safe, fresh and moderate alternative. If Labor federally can do the same, an implosion in One Nation will not save Turnbull.
- This also puts some pressure on Labor leader Bill Shorten. Labor could mop up the huge protest vote federally as Labor did in Western Australia if it had a stronger pitch.
- Note also that the Nationals in WA were spared much of the swing that wiped out the Liberals. This was not really a repudiation of conservatives, or certainly not all of them. Indeed, if One Nation had stayed clear of the Liberals and campaigned as the protest party, it would have done better.
Andrew Bolt writes for the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, and The Advertiser and runs Australia’s most-read political blog. On week nights he hosts The Bolt Report on Sky News at 7pm and his Macquarie Radio show at 8pm with Steve Price.