Premier Colin Barnett has tipped a bucket on the Liberal Party’s Churchlands preselectors for failing to pick his preferred candidate Kate Lamont, saying he feels personally let down by the decision.
In an extraordinary attack on the party, Mr Barnett said Ms Lamont, a chef and businesswoman, was “the standout” candidate in the Churchlands race and should have been selected over the eventual winner, former Army Lt-Col Sean L’Estrange.
“No disrespect to the nominated candidate Sean L’Estrange, he’s a good person. But I am very disappointed that Kate Lamont was not selected,” Mr Barnett said.
“For so many years we hear speeches within the Liberal Party and other parties about (how) we need to have high quality people in Parliament, and we need to have more successful women in Parliament.
“Kate Lamont ticks all the boxes. Successful in business, a leader of tourism in this State, a leader of tourism at a national level, an outstanding woman.
“I will continue to strive to get more high quality women like Kate Lamont into Parliament.
“I gave it my best, it didn’t happen. I’m very disappointed about that.”
Mr Barnett, who intervened in the pre-selection by asking the Liberal Party’s State Council to reopen nominations after their closing date to allow Ms Lamont to enter the race, appeared to confirm he did not intend to seek to have the decision overturned.
“I don’t think State Council is going to reconsider it and again I’m not reflecting adversely on Sean L’Estrange at all – a good person and a good candidate,” he said.
“But here was a standout. Kate Lamont is a standout, female candidate with a proven business and tourism record, a high achiever in our community by any standard.
“For some reason she was not seen to be suitable.
“I encouraged her to stand. I am personally disappointed. I feel let down by that decision.”
“I find the result of the vote extraordinary. I think Kate Lamont was clearly the outstanding candidate in that field. (There were) some good candidates, but Kate Lamont was the standout, and should have been selected.”
Churchlands is currently held by Independent Liz Constable, who is personally close to Mr Barnett and holds the education portfolio in his ministry. She is retiring at the March 2013 poll.
“The people of Churchlands, it’s the adjoining electorate to mine. They are basically Liberal voters. And they have an expectation that the Liberal Party will deliver the highest quality candidate they can into that electorate. And I don’t know that we’ve done that,” Mr Barnett said.
“I think while Sean is a good person, Kate Lamont is the outstanding candidate. Now, I’ll probably get a lot of criticism from the Liberal Party for saying that. But I have stood for years in the Liberal Party … (for getting) high quality people into seats, particularly so-called safe Liberal seats, and I will continue to strive to get high-quality women to stand for Parliament, whichever party.
“I think many people will be discouraged by that decision.“I doubt that Kate will put her name forward again. And I think many high-profile people will be discouraged from standing for Parliament for any party following this experience.”