West Australian Labor leader Mark McGowan has officially launched the party’s state election campaign with the mantra of putting jobs for locals first.
Mr McGowan received rapturous applause from Labor stalwarts including former federal leader Kim Beazley as he entered Perth Arena with AC/DC’s “TNT” blaring.
There was strong enthusiasm for an announcement to freeze TAFE fees and Mr McGowan also revealed a Labor government would introduce a four per cent stamp duty surcharge for all purchases of residential property by foreigners.
He reiterated the party’s vehement opposition to the privatisation of Western Power and Fremantle Port, and lashed the Liberal party for blowing the proceeds of the mining boom.
“This is not the time for platitudes about an economy in transition,” he said.
“And it’s not thing for an arrogant and out of touch government that refuses to acknowledge the issues.
“Can Western Australia afford another four years of Colin Barnett? I don’t believe it can.”
Mr McGowan also took a swipe at federal Liberals for saying a Labor government in WA could not count on $1.2 billion in Commonwealth funding for the contentious Perth Freight Link (PFL) project being reallocated, the latest warning coming from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull himself.
“It will be Western Australians who will decide where our funding is directed to and the circumstances in which it is spent,” Mr McGowan said.
“I’m not going to be bullied or intimidated by a politician from Canberra. I never have and I never will.
“The federal Liberals and Nationals rip us off when it comes to our GST share – I’m not going to let them rip us off on infrastructure.”
The opposition has vowed to tear up contracts for the Perth Freight Link project, which Infrastructure Australia has ranked among the nation’s most strategically important, and immediately revegetate bushland and wetlands that have been cleared to make way for it.
The Liberals have been scathing of the promise, saying it sends a dangerous message that contracts with the state may not be honoured.
They have also spruiked the job-creating benefits of PFL, which is set to be the state’s first toll road and provide a direct link to Fremantle Port, although the route has not yet been finalised, prompting opponents to label it “the road to nowhere”.