Federal Liberals not worried about WA loss

·2-min read

The Morrison government has latched on to John Howard's election victory 20 years ago after WA Labor's crushing state election annihilation of the Liberals.

Labor is on track to hold more than 50 of the state's 59 lower house seats, while the Liberals are predicted to win just three.

Federal Liberals have pointed to the coalition winning the 2001 federal election with a slightly increased majority in the same year as losing a WA poll.

But the electoral destruction was on a vastly different scale with the state Liberals retaining 16 lower house seats in state parliament in that year.

Senior cabinet minister Simon Birmingham said the coalition primary vote in WA rebounded strongly in 2001.

"Voters in states can exercise one judgment at a state election in a very different judgment at a federal election in quite short periods of time," he told ABC radio on Monday.

Senator Birmingham said the government would focus on steering Australia through the coronavirus pandemic.

"We will work hard as we as Australians would expect us to, delivering for them as the government every day between now and the election next year," he said.

"Our intention is to focus on governing, not on polls, not on the election."

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce isn't celebrating despite the fact his party may become the official opposition after winning more seats than the Liberals.

"They both lost seats. We shouldn't be bragging," he told the Seven Network.

He believes federal Labor will lose the next federal poll because the party is more left wing than in WA.

"They haven't got a snowflake's chance," Mr Joyce said.

Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon said the opposition would win federally if it focuses on health and economic security.

"It's not as if we're up against a good government," he told Seven.

"In fact we should win the next election and we will win the next election if we focus on the issues that are really important to people in this post-COVID period."

Scott Morrison congratulated West Australian Premier Mark McGowan on his victory, which the prime minister believes is an endorsement of his leadership on coronavirus.

"Australians understand the difference between federal and state," he told reporters.

"This is a resounding endorsement of Mark McGowan's leadership, which I didn't find surprising."

He also pointed to the 2001 election as an example of West Australians voting for the federal coalition after a state election thumping.