The WA Liberal party claims it has a fight ahead if it is to win the next state election and all fifteen federal seats in the West.
Speaking at the party’s state conference in Perth today, executive members said the party could not afford to believe that the “good” performance of the Barnett Government would get it over the line in March.
Following a redistribution of electorate boundaries, Labor notionally holds four more seats than the Liberals and need to claim only an additional three to form government outright.
WA Liberal Party director Ben Moreton said Labor was playing the underdog card in an attempt to fool the electorate.
“Labor want [the public] to believe they can’t win the election,” he said.
“They don’t want you to realise that they need to only hold everything they’ve got, win Fremantle [held by Independent Adele Carles] and two Liberal seats and they’ve won the election.
“The biggest threat to the next election is a complacency and an incorrect perception in the community that the grip that Colin Barnett and the Liberals have is stronger than it really is.”
Liberal Party president Geoff Pressor warned the electorate still needed to be won over.
“Colin Barnett is a premier getting the job done but we can’t just sit back and think because the Barnett Government has done a good job we deserve a second term. It doesn’t work that way,” he said.
“We’ve got to work hard to earn the respect, support and confidence of the electorate.”
The party also got stuck into Labor leader Mark McGowan, who, since replacing Eric Ripper in January, has managed to regain a significant amount of ground in the polls.
His campaign of blaming the government for increased living costs appears to be resonating with the public.
However, the Liberals honed in on the way in which he was elevated to the leadership.
“In Mark McGowan we are up against a slick product of Labor and the unions,” Mr Moreton said.
“[He] is someone who will only say what you want to hear, someone who will say and do anything to get elected, whatever it takes.
“This is the Labor we know: promise everything and deliver nothing.”
Mr Moreton said Mr McGowan’s career was “littered with examples of why he shouldn’t be premier”, including his involvement in a “messy” pay dispute with teachers prior to the 2008 election.
“This isn’t a fresh start for Labor, this is the same old Labor,” Mr Moreton said.
“But it’s not Mark McGowan’s past failures that worry me the most; it’s his current failures to stand for nothing.
“What leader can’t make up his mind on the Carbon Tax? Apparently Mark McGowan still hasn’t decided whether he supports the Carbon Tax or not.
“A leader who can’t even decide if they support the Carbon Tax is no leader and it’s not the sort of leader we need here in WA.”
Mr McGowan has said he would make up his mind about the Carbon Tax once it has been implemented long enough for him to assess its impact. He has said he would make that determination by Christmas.
The Liberal Party also highlighted its growing membership in WA, while Labor’s is believed to have dwindled to less than 2000.
Labor cancelled its state conference earlier this year, claiming it wanted to focus on the election but WA Liberals suggested it was a move to keep Julia Gillard from visiting the state.
Federal Liberal leader Tony Abbott is not attending his party’s WA state conference but did send a video message, saying Australians were “desperate to again have leaders they could trust”.
Deputy leader Julie Bishop, who has played a key role in today’s proceedings, has consistently referred to Mr Abbott, emphasising his credentials and labelling policies as his, in stark contrast to the Labor party distancing itself from Ms Gillard.
Ms Bishop said while the party held 12 of the 15 WA seats in both houses of the federal parliament, it would aim for a clean sweep at the next election.
Ms Bishop also paid tribute to the late WA Senator Judith Adams, who died on March 31 after a long battle with cancer.
Elected in 2004, Ms Bishop said the former nurse she was “a powerful, passionate advocate for regional Australia” and “a great lady”.