The West

Barnett hits back over swing
Barnett hits back over swing

Premier Colin Barnett has hit back at Federal Liberal suggestions that "tough times" for the State party attributed to Saturday's 5.5 per cent swing against it.

Liberal senator Eric Abetz told the ABC the party's campaign had been hurt by last week's "cynically orchestrated strike by teachers" over the Barnett Government's clamp on education spending.

"There is no doubt that the West Australian Liberal Government is going through some tough times," he said. "All those things do add to a negative view of the Government in the short-term and the consequences then flow. Voters know they would not change the Government in Perth or in Canberra and as a result, they feel more comfortable in spraying their votes around."

Mr Barnett quipped that he wondered whether his Federal colleagues would have praised the State party if their vote had been higher on Saturday.

"This was a Federal election," he said. "It was a by-election, in that circumstance it wasn't going to change Government and people therefore voted in a wider way and the votes drifted away from the major parties."

Prime Minister Tony Abbott denied the slump in the Liberal vote was a verdict on his six months in power, describing it as "a typical by-election result".

"You get a pretty broad range of candidates and a pretty broad range of voting in by-elections but what we can be very certain of is that candidates who are against the carbon tax and against the mining tax have performed very strongly," he said.

While Mr Abbott last week accused Clive Palmer of buying a seat in Parliament, the Prime Minister refused to weigh in yesterday on the success of the mining magnate's multimillion-dollar campaign.

But deputy leader and WA's most senior Liberal Julie Bishop said the coalition and PUP could have a constructive relationship.

"I have had chats with Clive in the past," she told ABC TV. "He is very entertaining as we saw in WA during the campaign. He can sing and he can dance.

"In a campaign of course parties have a go at each other, they're trying to win votes, and some things were said by Clive Palmer, some things were said by our side of politics."

Liberal State director Ben Morton was relieved Linda Reynolds was still in the hunt for the final seat after fears in the campaign's dying days she would lose.

"The fact that we are in a competitive position for our third position is good news and we will know in a few weeks time if we have succeeded," he said.

The West Australian

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