Poll stirs WA leadership pot
Leading Perth businessman John Poynton has released private polling he personally commissioned to make the case for leadership change in the WA Liberal Party.
In an extraordinary development, Mr Poynton admitted sharing the results with Colin Barnett’s potential leadership rival, Transport Minister Dean Nalder.
More than 10,000 people across 11 Liberal-held seats in metropolitan Perth were polled by ReachTel.
If the results were replicated Statewide, Labor would win 52.9 per cent of the primary vote to 47.1 per cent for the Liberal-Nationals, according to preference distribution analysis by The West Australian.
Of the 11 seats polled, 10 — Balcatta, Belmont, Forrestfield, Joondalup, Morley, Mt Lawley, Perth, Southern River, Swan Hills and Wanneroo — would fall to Labor.
The only seat polled that would remain in Liberal hands was Riverton, held by Treasurer Mike Nahan.
The headline numbers are broadly in line with previously published polling, which has shown Opposition Leader Mark McGowan leading Mr Barnett as preferred premier for more than a year.
Mr Poynton, who was Mr Nalder’s referee on his application for endorsement as a candidate in his most recent preselection, denied he was trying to exert political influence.
“A number of people I talk to in the community are getting increasingly concerned about the direction the State is heading in,” he said.
“We have noticed there is not any particular narrative about how to fix the problem.
“That’s made us very concerned, and we wanted to find out whether the public shared the concern that we had.”
Mr Poynton’s intervention drew a rebuke from WA Liberal president and party elder Norman Moore, who said the business community needed to understand the Liberals would determine their own leadership.
“While they can have their own opinion, they can’t be players in the game,” he said.
“Colin Barnett was very well received at our State conference and there was no suggestion from our membership that there should be any change.”
South Metropolitan Liberal Nick Goiran, a southern suburbs powerbroker loyal to Mr Barnett, said any private citizen was entitled to do whatever research they liked.
“But I would be incredibly disappointed if it was the case that any member of the State Parliamentary Liberal Party was involved with the commissioning of this polling,” he said.
Private polling suggests Premier Colin Barnett may not be a popular Premier.