Colin Barnett has revealed a desire to notch up a "hat-trick" of election victories over Labor in remarks challenging the growing perception of him as a Premier in the "departure lounge".
The Premier has consistently said he will consider his future a year from the 2017 State election and has told frontbenchers who don't plan to be in Parliament next term that they should quit Cabinet 12 months from the poll.
Labor MPs have begun peppering speeches and debates with claims that Mr Barnett will not be around to fix problems confronting the State, including falling GST and Federal funding for health and education.
In the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, while Mr Barnett was discussing GST returns WA may get, Labor frontbencher Paul Papalia interjected, "You won't be there".
It prompted a rowdy exchange, with the response from Mr Barnett picked up by Hansard and published yesterday.
"I will be there, do not worry. I am looking for a hat-trick," Mr Barnett said. "I am looking forward to 2017, don't you worry."
Asked to clarify or expand on the comments yesterday, Mr Barnett declined.
Liberal MPs were yesterday unsure whether Mr Barnett's remarks amounted to a guarantee he would contest the 2017 election.
One said they could have been "flippant remarks" in the heat of parliamentary debate designed to stop Labor's retirement attack gaining further traction.
"But I wouldn't be surprised if he ran again," the MP said. The smooth transition of leadership in the Nationals from Brendon Grylls to Terry Redman late last year raised questions about succession planning within the Liberal Party.
Former attorney-general Christian Porter was seen as the natural successor to Mr Barnett until Mr Porter quit Cabinet in 2012 to contest last year's Federal election.
That left former treasurer Troy Buswell widely considered as the only viable alternative until he, too, quit Cabinet after crashing into four cars after a wedding in February. Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said yesterday Mr Barnett had promised before last year's State election to serve a full term.
"I'll be prepared to take on whoever is leading the Government at the next election," Mr McGowan said.