PRIME Minister Scott Morrison has praised the spirit of Western Australia days before heading there for the first time during the May 18 election campaign.
Mr Morrison said Perth was very similar to his home base in Cronulla in the Sutherland Shire in southern Sydney.
“I like that Perth is really entrepreneurial and go-getting. It’s a have-a-go type place. The lifestyle is very similar to The Shire,” he said.
Mr Morrison will spend some time in Western Australia next week, including lining up against Labor leader Bill Shorten in a debate in Perth on Monday evening.
Mr Shorten has spent some time already in Western Australia, but Mr Morrison said only the coalition would deliver for the state.
Mr Morrison fended off criticism that he had not been in WA during the first fortnight of the election campaign.
He said he had been in Perth just after the April 2 budget – in the week the election was called.
“I will never underestimate or neglect what is happening in WA because it is central to my policy plans,” he said.
“If WA isn’t growing and strong, that leaves the Australian economy and our broader plan for a stronger economy through how we want to achieve things undermined.”
Meanwhile, Federal Liberals have accused Bill Shorten of resisting proper scrutiny by avoiding two more leaders debates, even though the Labor leader has already agreed to two.
Mr Shorten and Prime Minister Scott Morrison are due to debate in Perth on Monday and Brisbane next Friday.
Senior government minister Mathias Cormann says the Liberal Party has been offered further debates on the ABC and Nine Network.
“We are keen to have further debates … but at this point Bill Shorten appears to be resisting,” Senator Cormann told Sky News on Friday.
“He does not appear to be all that keen to submit himself to the scrutiny that Australians should expect.”
Senior Nine News journalist Chris Uhlmann said the network had offered to host a leaders debate in prime time on its main channel in the final weeks of the election campaign.
“The Liberal Party has agreed in principle, Labor said no. The offer stands. To paraphrase the Opposition leader, we live in hope, not fear.” he tweeted.