National lessons in crushing WA Labor win

Michael RamseyAAP
WA Premier Mark McGowan says voters have rewarded his government's strong management.
Camera IconWA Premier Mark McGowan says voters have rewarded his government's strong management.

Premier Mark McGowan has urged federal Labor to learn from his centrist government's stunning victory in Western Australia.

Labor is predicted to claim up to 53 of 59 lower house seats on the back of a remarkable 16.9 per cent swing in Saturday's election.

It is a generational defeat for the Liberals, who are set to be reduced to as few as two MPs and lose their opposition status to the Nationals.

Mr McGowan says voters have rewarded his government's strong management of the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic.

He believes the key to Labor's success has been adopting policies that appeal to broad sections of the community.

"That's the future for Labor as a political party," he told reporters on Sunday.

"A lot of people may have come out of a job somewhere where they were once a rusted-on Labor party supporter and then they became a tradie or a small businessman or woman.

"You've got to always make sure you continue to appeal to those people and they don't feel like they need to vote for someone else just because they changed their occupation or they made some money or anything of that nature.

"I'd urge the party all over Australia to go in that direction."

With 43 per cent of lower house votes counted, Labor has almost three times the number of first-preference votes of the Liberal party.

No government in WA has enjoyed such a parliamentary majority, and there is still a possibility Labor could also win control of the upper house.

Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup is among the raft of Liberal casualties, becoming the first WA Liberal leader to lose their seat since the 1930s.

Deputy leader Libby Mettam and David Honey have retained their safe seats of Vasse and Cottesloe respectively.

But Labor remained ahead on Sunday in close races for the blue-ribbon Liberal seats of Nedlands, Churchlands and Carine.

That a safe western-suburbs seat such as Nedlands could fall to Labor would have been unthinkable even 12 months ago.

Nationals leader Mia Davies is on track to become WA's opposition leader, with her party predicted to hold four or five lower house seats.

Mr McGowan said he was yet to speak with Ms Davies and it was too soon to know whether the Nationals would claim opposition status.

The Labor caucus will meet in coming days to sign off on ministerial appointments, including the retired Ben Wyatt's replacement as treasurer.

Deputy Premier Roger Cook could switch from the health portfolio while Transport Minister Rita Saffioti is another strong option.

The new cabinet is likely to be sworn in on Friday.

"I have a lot of good people to choose from for all the roles ... clearly I'll have a major say," the premier said.

Mr McGowan said parliament was likely to resume towards the end of April.

He listed creating jobs, expanding local manufacturing and building the new women's and babies hospital as top priorities on the government's agenda.

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