Politics

WA Liberals leader braces for likely exit

Zak Kirkup insists he has no regrets as he prepares to lead the West Australian Liberals to a defeat that could spell the end of his own short-lived political career.

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

Mr Kirkup took over as Liberal leader in November after Liza Harvey’s resignation, inheriting something of a poisoned chalice given the party’s recent internal problems and the extraordinary popularity of Premier Mark McGowan.

He admits leading the party has taken its toll but has promised to campaign tirelessly in the final stretch despite polls predicting a crushing Labor victory.

“I’m incredibly proud of the work that we’ve done … 57 major policies or announcements in a constrained environment with the most popular premier the state has ever seen and a Newspoll that says we could have a 30 per cent primary vote,” he said.

“We’ve done everything we can and will continue to work incredibly hard to get out there.

“It takes a toll but I promise you it is worth it for the people of Western Australia so that they understand exactly what it might mean if Labor gets total control and total power.”

The Liberals’ hopes of swaying undecided voters weren’t helped by Thursday’s shambolic policy costing presentation.

Treasury spokesman Sean L’Estrange was unable 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.

Mr L’Estrange declined to answer questions about the Liberals’ controversial clean energy policy, instead handballing them to energy spokesman David Honey.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt said said he had never seen anything like it.

“It was like watching the Three Stooges pass around a ticking time bomb – Sean L’Estrange didn’t want to talk about it, Zak Kirkup didn’t understand it and David Honey threw himself upon it,” he said.

“I have never seen anything so bad around a signature policy announced by any political party.”

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