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Defiant McGowan  vows to fight on
Upbeat: Mark McGowan. Picture: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

A defiant Mark McGowan says Labor can win the next State election - and he wants to lead the party all the way to the 2017 poll.

Unbowed by an election defeat that he expects will reduce Labor to 20 of the 59 Legislative Assembly seats, the Opposition Leader said yesterday he fully intended to hold the Barnett Government accountable for its "huge suite of election promises".

Despite the 2.6 per cent swing against Labor on the primary vote and the likely loss of at least six seats, including former strongholds Balcatta, Perth and Belmont, Mr McGowan insisted the party would have a solid base from which to launch a renewed assault on the Government in four years.

He continued to insist he ran a good campaign and played down suggestions from the Liberals that his stances on key projects, including the stadium, Elizabeth Quay and the museum, hurt him.

Instead, he said the Opposition was always going to struggle to defeat a first-term government and that the nurses' strike and the Premier's claim in the last week that he was not ill damaged his campaign more.

While some Labor figures pointed the finger at Julia Gillard's unpopularity, Mr McGowan still refuses to blame the Prime Minister or Federal Labor.

But he highlighted Liberal advertising that declared "Labor's a mess, don't let Labor mess with WA".

"I'm not going to blame anyone else for our loss," Mr McGowan said. "I take responsibility for our loss.

"I said it was a State election and that West Australians understood the difference. It would be hypocritical of me now to say, oh, they didn't.

"But it is interesting the vast bulk of the Liberals' advertising late in the campaign didn't relate to State issues - it related to other issues.

"Next time I expect the environment will be very different. It will be a second-term government that made a range of promises I expect they will break, there will potentially be a new premier and who knows what the national and international environment will be.

"So that's an interesting dynamic. In recent political history, WA governments last two terms."

Mr McGowan said Colin Barnett's claim in the final week of the campaign on _The West Australian _front page that he was not ill "somehow implied that I was saying that he was".

"It did not come from Labor. The people who wrote the stories know that," he said. "The article on the front page said (the claim) came from Liberal sources, yet somehow the Premier claimed it was from me."

Mr McGowan said only one colleague (Ken Travers) said Mr Barnett looked a bit tired - "a pretty mild thing … considering some of the things they've said about me".

"It was very hard to get out from under that," he said. "Sometimes the more you protest about it, the more it sounds like you did it."