State Opposition Leader Mark McGowan yesterday launched a blazing attack on his Federal colleagues' "stupid" support of the mining tax, saying it allowed Labor to be cast as anti-WA.
The criticism came as State secretary Simon Mead defended his stewardship of the WA branch amid sliding primary support in four State and Federal elections since he took the helm in 2008.
Mr McGowan, who campaigned side-by-side with Federal leader Bill Shorten throughout the Senate campaign, predicted that Labor's vote would have been "significantly better" but for its continued support of the mining tax.
"Just blindly keeping faith with something that they didn't sell well and didn't raise much money and was constructed fairly poorly is stupid and so that's my message to my Federal colleagues now," he said.
"Move on and learn lessons.
"Remove the policy that gives an impression that somehow they are anti-West Australian.
"We're not anti-West Australian, we're wildly pro-West Australian."
Mr Mead, who has presided over Labor's 2013 State election, its 2010 and 2013 Federal elections and Saturday's by-election, said: "If you are implying that our current low vote is my fault, I don't accept that entirely."
He compared Saturday's result to 2009's Greens-dominated Fremantle by-election which was within the "blast zone" of the Carpenter Labor government being voted out.
"We are still within the period when people clearly remember why they rejected the last Federal Labor government," he said.
Mr Mead said Labor's strategy encouraging voters to send a message to Prime Minister Tony Abbott worked "really well". "The Liberal Party's vote dropped even more than ours so our messages worked just as well for Scott Ludlam as they did for us," he said.
Asked if Joe Bullock's presence at the top of the ALP's ticket hurt its vote, Mr Mead said: "I haven't done that analysis."
Perth Labor frontbencher Alannah MacTiernan said the dismal primary vote showed the party had to improve the way it picked its candidates.
Ms MacTiernan called for union officials and factional chiefs to be stripped of their power.
"This is not a sheltered workshop for friends and relatives," she said. "Structures of the party have allowed too much power in the hands of too few."
Mr Shorten said the election was "no endorsement of the Liberals' cuts to jobs, health and education" and he hoped Senator Louise Pratt would be re-elected.