Former premier Barnett says losing election like ‘falling off cliff’, but happy to still be Cottesloe MLA

Colin Barnett. Photo: Jon Bassett
Colin Barnett. Photo: Jon Bassett

A SELF-DESCRIBED “relaxed” Cottesloe MLA Colin Barnett has described losing his State premiership “as like falling off a cliff”, six months after his Liberal government lost to Labor in a landslide.

“I’m quite enjoying going back to the beginning, and that’s being the Member for Cottesloe, and obviously I’ve got more time to deal with local issues, deal with local people,” he told the Western Suburbs Weekly.

In July, he took up North Fremantle residents’ complaints about anti-social behaviour at Housing Authority homes in Thompson Road, and contacted the Housing Authority through the Minister for Housing.

“One of the groups that were causing trouble are no longer there. They’ve lost their public house. And others have been put on shorter-term tenancies, and that seems to have calmed things down significantly,” Mr Barnett said.

He continues to say he has not made a decision about when he may leave the seat he has held since 1990, including more than eight years as premier.

“If, and when, I make a decision I will announce it publicly, but I’ve not done that,” he said.

“There’s lots of speculation. I get asked every couple of weeks, but I’ve always said, and as Jeff Kennett, who is a good friend of mine, said, his advice to me was ‘whatever you do, don’t make any decisions for a while. Just sit back and let time go by’.

“And that’s what I will do.”.

However, the change from no longer being WA politics’ most powerful man has been significant.

“Obviously, I miss being Premier, and being important, and it takes a bit of getting over. It’s a bit like falling off a cliff, and I think that’s no different than people who are entertainers or sports stars, or whatever else,” Mr Barnett said.

After the defeat, Opposition Leader Mike Nahan said there were worries about how Mr Barnett was coping.

Six months later, the former-premier still bristles at the suggestions made by his former treasurer, calling them “inappropriate”.

“Obviously when you lose an election, and you lose it by such a margin, that’s a bit devastating, but to suggest in some way my health was affected, it was not,” Mr Barnett said.

He said there was still no timetable for his departure and he is “not open to discussion” with his party about potential successor, or to find a candidate himself.

“No, I don’t (have a timetable), but in any case I’m not about to step down,” he said.

MORE: Town of Victoria Park to fly rainbow flag in lead-up to same sex marriage survey

MORE: Taxi drivers given guide to working with dogs

MORE: Clown purge version II to hit southern suburbs