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WA: Nationals decide « Previous | |Next »
September 15, 2008

So the Nationals in WA have stayed true to tradition in their decision to deliver power to the Barnett-led Liberals. That spells the end of the Carpenter Government, Alan Carpenter and Labor's dominance Labor in all states and territories of the federation. It is also political humiliation for WA Labor, given the boom times in WA.

LeakWAnationals.jpg Bill Leak

Brendon Grylls said that a major factor in aligning with the Liberals was that a deal with them meant the Nationals would hold the balance of power in both houses of parliament. That would indicate they could remain an independent political force. Will they be able to do so? Will the pro-development Barnett Liberals deliver on health, education and transport (they say they have a social conscience) as well as invest heavily in infrastructure in the regions?

In an op-ed The Australian Peter Van Onselen observes that:

at a personal level, Grylls wanted his team to support a Labor government led by Alan Carpenter. He was outvoted by his Nationals colleagues ... The young leader was wooed by a significant slush fund for the bush offered by the Labor Party .... Carpenter's offer included an amount of money almost twice the size of Barnett's, the distribution of which would have been put in the hands of Nationals MPs given portfolio responsibility for the regions, effectively creating a two-tiered government structure: one set of ministers for the regions and one for Perth.The mobile slush fund looked conspicuously like the Howard government's Regional Partnership Scheme, labelled by federal Labor as blatant pork barrelling ... Grylls liked the look of Labor's proposal because he believed the pork-barrelling opportunities for regional electorates during the next four years would have helped the Nationals expand its voting base in the state's north...Grylls also wanted to send a strong message to soft Labor voters and the Liberal Party that the Nationals are truly independent, again as a way of broadening the party's appeal.

Van Onselen says that has not happened. The Nationals have done what is in their best interests, given the conservative make-up of its voting base. But Carpenter's offer would have delivered more money and more autonomy for regional WA.

Maybe the stench of corruption, Brian Burke style was too great for the Nationals.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:33 AM | | Comments (7)


How many new police stations and gaols can they build? Labor was well advanced on law and order and hospitals in remote areas like the Kimberley. The new Broome station dwarfs the old one.

For what it is worth Labor appeared assured of 27 seats, the Liberals 24, the Nationals four and Independents at least two seats in the 59-seat Legislative Assembly.The Liberals, with the help of the National Party, will also command the upper house for the first time since 1996.

The Nationals have a lot of work to do to remain an Independent political force as the seats they have won are ... the old wheatbelt country --- classic old Country Party seats.Will the Nationals stance of speaking on behalf of all regional seats, not just the ones we represent, pay dividend in increased seats? Or will they remain a rural rump of the old Country Party?

It isn't going to be easy for the Nationals.The regional electorates of Pilbara and Kimberley are held by the ALP--amazing. I would have thought they would be Nationals' territory. The former former ALP minister John Bowler, who is an independent in Kalgoorlie, stands with the Nationals.

it is full steam ahead on uranium mining under the Liberal regime. Nothing can stand in the way of development as that is understood by the free market. It sounds like a return to the Court days

I'm surprised at Brendon I thought he wanted to do the best deal for the bush, he has given the liberals the opportunity to do the same as Court did. Bets are already being placed as to how long this alliance will last. Carpenter offered 1 billion more over 4 years, there is no way Barney will.

I was surprised too. $1 billion a year was more than the $675 million asked for as the beginning of negotiations and Labor also offered the Nationals responsibility for agriculture, as well as development, transport, housing, power, education and health in the regions, worth $2.7 billion in projects and services.

I understand that Grylls and his deputy wanted to go with Labor but the Nationals state executive and other parliamentarians wanted to go with the Liberals. Tradition and all that. I agree that the Nationals are worse off as a result, both in terms of money for the regions and political independence. They lacked political courage.

It looks as if a Barnett Liberal government will hold a wafer-thin majority in the hung parliament, with support from Labor-turned Independent MP John Bowler (a good friend of Brian Burke?) being crucial.

In the Legislative Assembly, Labor will hold 28 seats. The count for Barnett is 29. This includes 24 Liberals, 4 Nationals and his close friend, Liberal-aligned independent Liz Constable, a respected long-serving parliamentarian. The two remaining MPs in the 59-seat chamber are another Liberal-connected independent, Janet Woollard and the sacked Labor minister-turned-independent, Kalgoorlie MP John Bowler, who claims he will support the Nationals.

It is an eclectic and unpredictable group since the the partnership Barnett has forged with the Nationals is not enough on its own to keep him entirely safe.