Analysis: Crafty politics from WA Premier Mark McGowan means Clive Palmer shapes as an unlikely ally in Labor’s bid to end the Coalition’s federal dominance in Western Australia, according to leading local commentator Gareth Parker.
The Coalition has dominated the west for decades, even bucking the trend towards Labor during Kevin Rudd’s sweep to power in 2007.
But Mr McGowan’s hardline stance on borders during the pandemic proved wildly popular and saw state Labor claim 53 of 59 seats in a devastating 2021 election win.
Not only was the Liberal brand trashed by the result – the party was reduced to only two seats – but Mr McGowan has also done his best since to cause further damage.
His weapon of choice: Clive Palmer.
“Clive Palmer is about the least popular person you can imagine in WA and the Labor Party are gunning hard to link Scott Morrison to him,” 6PR Breakfast host Gareth Parker explained on the On The Trail, Election 2022 podcast.
Mr Palmer launched legal action during the pandemic against WA’s hard border and locals were not impressed. They were equally unimpressed when the federal government initially supported the move.
“Mark McGowan quite skilfully said ‘Well, look, this is the Liberal Party’ – and he used the word ‘Liberals’, not the Commonwealth, this is the Liberals trying to join Clive Palmer to tear down the very popular hard border – and I think that stuck,” Parker said.
“Certainly the campaign advertisements that are being run here by the WA Labor Party are focusing on that Palmer-Morrison nexus,” Parker told the podcast.
And he said the stakes are higher than just this federal election.
“If this election doesn’t go as the Liberals want it to go, then all of a sudden the Liberal Party in WA is almost facing an existential threat,” Parker said.
“They’ve been so decimated at state level, it’s cost them so many election positions and therefore the jobs that go with them and the party positions, and the taxpayer-funded electoral offices… if they then start to get eaten away at a federal level then Labor could become so dominant here.
“It’s a real moment for the Liberal Party in WA.
“Does the Liberal brand become irretrievably damaged if Scott Morrison can’t put up a good showing here in the West?”