WA Election: Barnett bows out at end of era

Colin Barnett concedes defeat in the 2017 election. Pictures: Jon Bassett
Colin Barnett concedes defeat in the 2017 election. Pictures: Jon Bassett

THE emotion of defeat flickered on the face of former premier Colin Barnett as he started his State Election concession speech and congratulated Labor’s Mark McGowan on his victory, at Cottesloe Golf Club in Swanbourne on Saturday.

“There were a lot of factors out there, but at the end of the day, time was a factor,” Mr Barnett said about his view of the major contributor to his loss of government after eight and a half years.

Yesterday, his former Liberal-National alliance was on track to have lost at least 20 seats, with seven others still undecided, after an historic swing to Labor.

With counting continuing yesterday, the Liberal’s primary vote had fallen at least 15.7 per cent, while Labor’s had climbed 9.7 per cent.

With 73 per cent of the vote counted in his ultra-safe Cottesloe electorate yesterday, the two-party preferred result had Mr Barnett with 12,374 votes (63.85 per cent) and Labor’s Caitlin Collins 7007 votes (36.15 per cent).

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“Firstly can I congratulate Mark McGowan and the Labor Party,” Mr Barnett said at the club.

“They have had an emphatic, convincing victory.”

Reviewing his premiership, Mr Barnett said he had given it his “best shot”, and he had led a pro-development and caring government with integrity.

He said he wanted to be premier when he first entered politics, and was now among the longest-serving leaders of the State, with five prime ministerial changes in his time.

“Maybe that will now be a rare occurrence, that someone will hold that position for so long,” he said of his time in the top job.

Walking around the club with a drink in hand, he personally thanked many of his loyal supporters, including his long-serving electorate secretary Nina Curtis.

He left analysis of issues that caused the result, including the controversial preference deal with One Nation, State finances, the $5 mining levy floated by the Nationals and the Perth Freight Link, to party guests.