Politics

Kirkup defends WA Liberal campaign tactics

West Australian Liberal leader Zak Kirkup has denied sabotaging his colleagues with his early concession of defeat in the state election.

The 34-year-old has vowed to walk away from politics if he is voted out of his ultra-marginal seat of Dawesville at Saturday’s state election.

A poll published by The West Australian newspaper on Friday predicted Mr Kirkup will become the first WA Liberal leader to lose his seat since the 1930s.

Such a result would almost certainly spell disaster for other Liberal MPs vying to save their seats.

It would also suggest Mr Kirkup’s decision to concede defeat more than two weeks before polling day and campaign against Labor securing “total control” was a tactical failure.

Mr Kirkup defended the strategy while campaigning in Dawesville on election eve, saying he was simply levelling with voters.

“West Australians, I think, appreciate our honesty. And they deserve that,” he told reporters.

“We asked West Australians to think about what cost it would be to them and their communities if Labor does get elected with too much power. And I’m very, very sure that as people go to the polls that is something they will think about.”

Mr Kirkup said the Liberals had supported last month’s five-day coronavirus lockdown but described it as a “significant interruption” to their campaign.

He insisted he didn’t regret introducing his controversial clean energy plan, which has been publicly criticised by his state and federal colleagues, and defended his party’s shambolic policy costings presentation.

Treasury spokesman Sean L’Estrange was unable on Thursday to explain shortfalls in funding for major promises or even to provide the cost of key policies.

It also emerged that accounting firm Hall Chadwick had not been asked to analyse any assumptions behind the party’s costings.

Asked on Friday what advice he would give to Mr Kirkup, Premier Mark McGowan said voters rewarded perseverance.

“You never give in. You keep on going,” he said.

“People respect work and they respect effort and they respect people who keep going no matter how hard it gets.

“If you want to achieve office where you actually get to do things, you’ve got to keep working.”

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