WA Labor’s Landslide Win Tells of More Than Just Lacklustre Liberal Leadership

March 16, 2021 Updated: March 17, 2021

Analysis

Labor’s stunning victory in Western Australia—more than any other in the state’s history— was driven by a tandem of a weak, inexperienced Liberal Party and dangerously deified Labor leadership, independent candidates say.

At close to 60 percent of votes counted for the Western Australian Legislative Assembly, or lower house, the Labor party under Mark McGowan looks set to secure a crushing 50 out of 59 seats—in contrast with the Liberals, who under Zak Kirkup, secured a meagre two seats.

This is also the first time in the state’s history that the National party’s seats have surpassed that of the Liberal party, garnering four seats in total.

The problem, independent candidate Jim Bivoltsis told The Epoch Times, was that Kirkup was inexperienced at 34 years of age and had no idea of leadership.

Bivoltsis pointed out that Kirkup, who had not completed his degree at Murdoch University, had never really experienced strong leadership positions in his working life.

Epoch Times Photo
Labor supporters watch the screen as Liberal leader Zak Kirkup gives a speech at the Gary Holland Community Centre in Rockingham, Australia, on Mar. 13, 2021. (Will Russell/Getty Images)

Kirkup also introduced several policies that did not appeal to many in the state, he said.

One such policy called for the closure of all coal-fired power stations in WA by 2025. While many shared the environmental sentiment, Bivoltsis argued, some suggested the policy seemed unrealistic and poorly planned, given the importance of coal-fired power plants to the Western Australian state.

“His time frame and his structure for doing it just weren’t sound,” Bivoltsis said.

Prior to election day, Kirkup also openly admitted defeat, suggesting that being honest was the best policy, a decision that made many in the electorate question his leadership.

However, experts believe that Labor, and McGowan, were set to win from the outset after external factors gave voters a positive view of the state government.

University of Western Australia professor and political scientist Ben Reilly told The Epoch Times that a significant contribution to the stunning landslide victory was the public’s perception of the McGowan government.

Reilly noted that as a result of high iron ore prices, a substantial flow of royalties entered into the state budget, allowing the McGowan government to increase public funding in the state to more generous levels, with an emphasis on schools and hospitals.

Likewise, the state government benefited from the positive outcomes for Western Australia in the pandemic.

Under McGowan, WA was kept fairly free of the SARS-CoV-2 virus via a policy of hard borders and domestic travel approvals, which slowed down travel to and from the state, although this is disputed.

Andrea Tokaji, independent candidate and human rights lawyer, told The Epoch Times that it was really WA’s geographic location that saved the state from the pandemic.

“He did not save us from COVID—our geography did,” Tokaji said.

Tokaji believes this does not warrant the degree of admiration illustrated by the public, given McGowan’s basic level of action. She also believes that the media has sensationalised McGowan, and the pandemic, to an unfettered extent.

“I think the WA election results are reflective of a society deeply affected by propaganda in the media and a damaging demi-god like idolization of Mark McGowan,” Takaji said.

Epoch Times Photo
After a landslide victory, re-elected Premier of WA Mark McGowan makes a speech with his family by his side at the Gary Holland Community Centre in Rockingham, Australia on Mar. 13, 2021. (Will Russell/Getty Images)

She is also troubled by the election result’s future influence on policy-making and approval.

“As a legal academic teaching law, I am extremely concerned about the outcome of this election result, one that directly threatens our democracy and the balance of powers in our parliaments,” Tokaji said.

“No longer is there an opposition that can debate or vote against legislation that the Labor parliament wants to introduce, such as Victoria’s Conversion laws, which threatens freedom of religion, announced partway through the election.”