LABOR made itself a big target with a far too ambitious policy agenda, West Australian Premier Mark McGowan says.
Not a single federal lower house seat appears to have changed hands in WA, where Labor initially hoped to snatch up to five from the Liberals.
There were many lessons from the defeat, Mr McGowan said.
“Clearly Labor had an overly ambitious policy agenda and allowed themselves to be attacked,” he told reporters.
“They put it out there years in advance and it was targeted very successfully by the Liberal Party.
“I think the lessons of John Hewson, perhaps, were lost.”
In 1991, 18 months before the election, the then-Liberal opposition leader launched Fightback, which was the biggest collection of radical conservative policies ever presented to the Australian people.
Labor went on to win under Paul Keating.
Before Saturday’s loss, Labor had also “painted a huge target” on itself, Mr McGowan said.
“Their policies were way too grandiose, way too many. They didn’t have a core theme. People couldn’t latch onto a single thing.
“They allowed themselves to become the issue.”
Some of Labor’s promises had such big price tags, they may not have been believed, he added.
Another mistake was alienating business, Mr McGowan said.
“We need to make sure that we appeal to everybody. We need to make sure we don’t divide.”
He drew on wisdom from Labor’s most successful prime minister Bob Hawke, who died last week: “You work with everyone.”
In hindsight, Labor should have targeted fewer seats in WA, he said.
Labor thought it had a good chance of seizing Swan, Stirling, Hasluck, Pearce and Canning, but the party’s only comfort in WA appears to be Anne Aly likely holding onto Cowan.
Mr McGowan was particularly sad that Hannah Beazley, daughter of WA Governor and former federal Labor leader Kim Beazley, didn’t win Swan and pledged to “support her to the hilt” in any future state or federal parliamentary bid.
Bill Shorten, now the interim opposition leader, had the premier alongside him while campaigning in the state, hoping the association with WA Labor’s thumping 2017 state election win would rub off.
Mr McGowan said it obviously didn’t work.
“We did our best to help.”