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Australian Current Affairs

Australian Prime Minister harmed state election results for her own party


Julia Gillard

Julia Gillard

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard harmed the Labor brand further by not being involved in the West Australian election campaign, according to re-elected premier Colin Barnett.

Mr Barnett was celebrating the Liberal’s extraordinary triumph in yesterday ‘s poll, which saw his party win enough seats to govern on its own, as Labor’s federal woes infected WA.

While Mr Barnett was insistent federal issues were a background to the landslide win, and not the main reason for it, the vocal critic of the PM did say she had made a mistake by staying away from the west.

“I believe (WA Labor leader) Mark McGowan made a mistake by not having Julia Gillard in the campaign, but that was his call,” Mr Barnett said.

“Mark McGowan was standing as a Labor leader, and not to have a Labor Prime Minister appear in the state I think actually weakened further the image of Labor in this state.

“You cannot be a Labor or a Liberal leader and then distance yourself from your own party and expect to get elected.”

Mr Barnett said he believed Labor was a damaged brand, but it was not an election in which federal issues determined the result.

“Federal issues were there as a factor but they were not a determining factor,” he said.

Ms Gillard issued a brief, terse statement congratulating Mr Barnett and saying she “acknowledged” Mr McGowan.

Mr Barnett said he would take some time to reflect on the magnitude of the win, while keeping a close eye on remaining tight seats, but was determined to start a new four year term with a “clean slate”.

He said this would mean he would not be in a position to announce his new cabinet for several days.

The Liberals kept all of the 24 seats they won at the 2008 election. The Liberals and Nationals are predicted to win 40 seats to Labor’s 19 in the final count.

Deputy opposition leader Julie Bishop said the massive swing against Labor in the West Australian election has implications for the federal ALP.

“If ever there were a state election that had federal implications, this was it,” Ms Bishop told Sky News Australian Agenda today.

She said federal government policies such as the carbon and mining taxes were unpopular in her home state of Western Australia.

The attack by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on workers on the 457 visa did “not resonate well” in WA either, Ms Bishop said.

Last week Ms Gillard said she was concerned the 457 skilled migrant worker visa program was being abused by employers and that Australian workers were missing out on jobs.

“We need overseas workers to support our economy and the major infrastructure projects here,” Ms Bishop said.

“It was appalling timing and bad public policy for Julia Gillard to launch a war on overseas workers during the Western Australia campaign.”

Ms Bishop said the federal coalition was heartened by the WA election result, particularly with the swings in city-based seats against Labor.

She said Labor’s three federal lower house seats in WA, particularly those of Perth held by Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Special Minister of State Gary Gray’s electorate of Brand, were in the sights of the coalition at the September 14 federal election.

“We certainly intend to contest all of them very strongly,” she said.

Former West Australian Labor premier Geoff Gallop said the state election result reflected the electorate’s view of his party.

“The public are looking in and they don’t like what they see,” Dr Gallop told Sky News Australian Agenda.

“They don’t like the way it works, they don’t like the way it functions.”

Dr Gallop said Labor had to reform its structure or it would continue to struggle.

“Until they do that, it will battle,” he said.

Federal government frontbencher Brendan O’Connor said most of the issues in the WA poll were state matters but federal problems had drifted into the election.

“Any challenges that might occur federally will sometimes splash on to elections that occur around the country,” Mr O’Connor told ABC television.

Mr Smith said Saturday’s result proved the Labor party had many issues to work on before the federal election.

“We’ve had a tough time federally – you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work that out – and there’s no doubt we have been a drag on (WA Labor leader) Mark (McGowan) and there’s no doubt that we haven’t been helpful,” he said.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott congratulated WA Premier Colin Barnett and his team for their “emphatic” win on Saturday.

“Their re-election is a strong endorsement of the Barnett government’s careful stewardship of the state economy, their track record of delivery and their plan to keep the Western Australian economy growing,” he said in a statement.

Mr Abbott said the result was a strong message for Ms Gillard and the Labor government.

“That their carbon tax and mining tax are toxic to the Australian economy, toxic for local jobs and are adding to people’s cost of living pressures,” he said.

Source: The Australian – “Prime Minister Julia Gillard has harmed the Labor brand during the WA election, says Colin Barnett”
 
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