Controversial former senator and WA Liberal Party powerbroker Noel Crichton-Browne writes for Crikey on this month’s Western Australian election. Not all of our readers are pleased.

As matters presently stand the Western Australian State Labor government may be the first government in that State since 1974 to be defeated after one term. The last was that of Labor Premier John Tonkin who was swept from office by Charles Court.

There are those who may unkindly claim the Gallop government is the most shallow and incompetent since Tonkin’s.

Gallop may well have a doctorate however it is demonstrably not of political science. He has political dyslexia with no apparent sense of the innate nature of the Western Australian electorate.

Gallop’s win at the last election was in large measure the result of the failings of the Court government and One Nation’s retribution for the Liberal Party putting it last in every seat. As observed by an earlier contributor to Crikey, Gallop is still according to his public utterances in denial about the role One Nation played in his ascension.

The first three years of Labor’s term were frittered away on a legislative program dominated by a social agenda, most of which coincidentally offends many of the 104,000 voters (9.87%) who at the last election cast a vote for One Nation. This controversial and often ill-considered legislation monopolised the media while economic reform languished: neglected and ignored by an immature government fixated with imposing its social values on the electorate.

The Western Australian economy rests almost entirely on primary industries, of which the mining industry is the dominant partner. Apparently convinced that environmental issues are central to his re-election, Gallop has frustrated and inhibited mining exploration to the point that the Mines Department has a backlog of thousands of mining tenant applications.

Mining projects, years in the approval process, are announced almost with embarrassment, invariably accompanied by gushing promises that environmental considerations have been the paramount determinant. How true; how true. Political donations from the mining sector are flooding into the Liberal Party’s coffers.

As if to display his dysfunctional manner of government, Premier Gallop has increased taxes in each of his first three budgets after making his campaign promise not to increase taxes and charges a central plank of his 2000 election: 14 separate taxes and charges were increased in 2001/02, 8 in 2002/03 and 11 in 2003/04.

In an idiosyncratic response to criticism for breaking this core promise, Gallop has publicly expressed his sorrow. The absurdity of a serial offender expressing remorse is apparently lost on him. Presumably Gallop imagines all is now forgiven by an electorate which has been repeatedly subject to taxes and charges he promised would never be introduced.

Labor has thus far not been helped by a poorly executed campaign which is being directed by the same federal personalities who so inauspiciously ran Latham’s campaign.

Crikey reader feedback:

One subscriber isn’t an NCB fan:

Really – the right wing rave he gives can be got in any Murdoch outlet – why here?

Another reader writes:

How could the “hyphen” (Noel C-Browne) comment on the WA election without mentioning Colin “Venice” Barnett’s canal? If he is going to have any credibility as a commentator let’s see him either get stuck into Colin or explain to us poor hicks in the West why it’s a good thing that Colin has promised to build a 3700km canal without any feasibility study. He might also like to discuss how Colin can keep saying with a straight face that the cost will be around $2 billion and that the water will cost around $1.10 per kilolitre when an independent consultant came up with a cost of $9.5-12.4 billion and $6.10 per kilolitre for a pipeline back in 2002.

Colin says that the canal is a technological advance on a pipeline – but nobody can seriously believe that it could be built for less than 20% of the cost of a pipeline and that the water will be delivered at a similar discount to the cost of the pipeline water.

And a third has concerns as well:

So, a column on the WA election by an ex Liberal powerbroker? Amazingly he spends the whole column in a concerted bash at the ALP. Pretty damn incisive stuff, and scarcely predictable.

Perhaps tomorrow you could get Amanda Vanstone to give us her “inside view” on how good detention centres are and how lucky Ms Rau was.

Robert Wingrove

Peter Fray

72 hours only. 50% off a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

Our two-for-one offer with The Atlantic was so popular we decided to bring it back.

But only for 72 hours.

Use the promo code ATLANTIC2020 and you’ll get 50% off a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year of digital access to The Atlantic (usually $70). That’s BOTH for just $129.

Hurry. Ends midnight this Thursday.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

Claim Now