Opinion: Prepare for WA to be virtually opposition-less for the next four years

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Kate CampbellGeraldton Guardian
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Premier Mark McGowan arrives to address the media. The West Australian
Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan arrives to address the media. The West Australian Credit: Nic Ellis/The West Australian, Nic Ellis

From 6.42pm on Saturday, let the record show there was a parliamentary massacre of epic proportions.

It was nothing like we’d seen before in any election.

About 90 per cent of the chamber stained red. WA effectively a one-party State.

The result of the biggest election wipe-out in living memory was the stuff of Labor’s wildest dreams and the conservative parties’ worst nightmares.

An election called just 42 minutes in, with 0.7 per cent of the vote counted.

An election that will leave the Liberals with just two confirmed of the total 59 Lower House seats and the Nationals with four, making them the Opposition. Even if they form a coalition, that will only leave the Nats and Libs with just 10 per cent of the Legislative Assembly.

Most people, even Liberal and National voters and politicians, would have known a train wreck was on the horizon. But a train wreck at 150km/h, with no brakes applied. How do you come back from that? And was it driver error or mechanical failure? I think a bit of both.

Some pundits are saying it’s a generational wipe-out for the Libs. I hope that’s wrong, and what’s been proven time and time again is that things can change quickly in politics.

It looks unbelievably bleak for the Libs now, but remember back in 2012 the Queensland LNP crushed the State Labor Party, leaving them with just seven seats out of 89. But less than three years later, Labor turned it around, winning government.

Geraldton was one of the first seats the TV networks called on election night, with Labor’s Lara Dalton rewarded for effectively an eight-year long job application. Yes, Ms Dalton, pictured, was a strong local candidate, and she is now Geraldton’s first woman MP in its 131-year electoral history.

That definitely deserves kudos. It should be noted Ian Blayney and Rob Dines fielded solid local campaigns, but they were up against the Mt Everest-sized corona- crush the people of WA had developed for Mark McGowan and his leadership in steering the State through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having a campaign centred on successfully making WA the envy of the world — in terms of lifestyle and the economy — during such extraordinarily uncertain times is pure election gold.

No, hang on, what’s stronger than gold? Diamond? Titanium? No, it was pure election tungsten. No one could have beaten Labor or McGowan. And it also must be remembered the political sentiment started turning red in Geraldton in 2017, when Ms Dalton achieved a 21.5 per cent swing. In 2021, she’s sitting on another 15 per cent swing. That’s a 36.5 per cent swing in two elections.

Now, we must make sense of what we, as electors, have created. How can an Opposition be effective with only a handful of members?

How can all the key shadow portfolios be shared around between so few? This will make the job of the media, in cutting through the spin to get to the truth and making the Government accountable, even more important.

The job of governing, even with a majority, is hard.

Being in opposition is hard.

Being in such an obliterated opposition will be tougher.

One thing is for sure: the person in Parliament who will have the easiest job in the next four years will be the Speaker.

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