West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has declared his government is rapidly catching Labor with election day just three weeks away.
Mr Barnett helped officially launch the Liberal Party’s 2017 campaign on Sunday as a new ReachTEL survey showed the ALP and government 50-50 on a two-party preferred basis after the opposition had dominated polling for more than a year.
“I always felt the Labor Party were in front leading up to this election,” Mr Barnett said.
“But as the election goes on my sense is it is getting closer and closer now people are focused on the parties’ policies and candidates.”
There was a personal element to attacks on Labor at the launch at the University of Western Australia, with footage of leader Mark McGowan sweating at a press conference and federal MP Christian Porter using it to repeatedly ridicule him as “slimy” and untrustworthy.
The spectre of disgraced former premier and lobbyist Brian Burke was raised, including Mr McGowan previously having sought his advice and the fact several ministers in the previous Gallop-Carpenter governments lost jobs because of dealings with him.
Mr Barnett and his deputy Liza Harvey attacked Labor for being “mediocre” under Mr McGowan with a shadow ministry that included four former union organisers that would be involved in running the state if they won.
“This government has been a high achieving government in sometimes quite difficult times,” he said.
“People haven’t forgotten that the Labor government when they were in power were compromised.
“I’m comfortable with (personal attacks) given all the abuse I’ve copped from Mark McGowan and others over the years, this is an election campaign, it’s all out on the table.”
There is speculation Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will announce some kind of “floor” in GST revenue, which has fallen to about 30 cents in the dollar in WA, when he joins the campaign on Monday.
The lack of GST revenue WA gets compared to other states was described as the “one major financial” issue by Mr Barnett behind its deficit and debt issues.
After walking out to the Daft Punk song One More Time, Mr Barnett made several election funding promises.
A $110 million live export loading facility south of Perth, stamp duty concessions of up to $15,000 for seniors wanting to downsize homes and a new employer incentive scheme to generate 15,000 apprenticeships.