Former Liberal leader Matt Birney has emerged as a potential long-term replacement for Colin Barnett after yesterday refusing to rule out a political comeback, admitting he had "unfinished business".
Mr Birney, who quit politics in 2008, said he had rejected two recent advances from party chiefs to stand in the State election because of work commitments.
As general manager of WA-based automotive, industrial and mining supplies giant Covs - formerly Coventrys - he is overseeing the company's expansion.
He was courted last year to stand in the seat of Bateman vacated by Federal Parliament hopeful and former attorney-general Christian Porter.
The Premier has held up Mr Birney as an example to his election candidates because of the former Kalgoorlie MP's against-the-trend win in the seat in 2001.
He remains the only Liberal to hold the seat.
Mr Birney praised Mr Barnett's pursuit of "big-picture items" to improve WA, such as Elizabeth Quay and the sinking of the railway line in central Perth, saying the projects prompted thoughts of one day completing his own political visions.
"People often ask me if I miss politics and the answer is yes," Mr Birney said.
"Do I miss it enough to go back (now), I think the answer is no, but I'm only 43 and I'm really proud of what we managed to achieve in Kalgoorlie, which is now on the political map as a seat that can be won by either party.
"Frankly, I would like to have been part of these big-ticket items and one of my great regrets is that I spent my career in opposition.
"If I was really honest with myself, I'd say that there probably is an element of unfinished business there with respect to politics.
"It's not something that I'm contemplating at this point in time and it's not something I'm angling towards. But would I rule it out for ever? Probably not.
"I'm enjoying the role I've got now immensely and I'm committed to developing it as far as it can possibly be developed."
Mr Birney, whose father Jack was Federal member for Phillip in NSW from 1975 to 1983, also urged both parties to immediately seek higher profile candidates for the next election to get stronger talent in the WA Parliament.
He tipped the Barnett Government to be returned on Saturday, believing scandals surrounding Treasurer Troy Buswell had not been damning enough to cause an election upset.
"For governments to change hands, you generally either have to have a scandal-plagued government or a terrific opposition and I don't think we've got either at the moment," he said.
Mr Barnett said Mr Birney's swing of 7 per cent to snare the traditionally Labor-dominated seat of Kalgoorlie in 2001, when the party as a whole suffered a similar swing the other way, was a victory which could inspire Liberal candidates on Saturday."Matt ran a fantastic campaign when he won against the odds when the tide went against the then government," Mr Barnett said.
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