Liberals air grievances to Barnett
The 31-15 vote against a motion to spill Colin Barnett’s leadership was followed by a two-hour partyroom discussion in which Liberal MPs criticised the Premier — and each other — in a frank airing of grievances.
Mr Barnett emerged from last week’s meeting willing to acknowledge his leadership style had put some of them off.
He pledged to try to be more available to Liberal MPs while formulating his policy positions.
And he conceded some MPs had been upset at the way they had been treated by members of his staff, saying he accepted the criticism but that the task of government was difficult, complex and required quick and decisive leadership.
The spill motion, precipitated by the resignations of ministers Dean Nalder and Tony Simpson, and moved by aggrieved former minister Murray Cowper, was dealt with swiftly.
Mr Nalder and Mr Simpson each spoke at length during the partyroom meeting, explaining their actions at the weekend to their colleagues.
Mr Nalder repeated his claim made publicly that he was frustrated because he could not get a meeting with Mr Barnett, sources in attendance said.
Mr Cowper and former minister Helen Morton, who spoke against the Premier in recent days, also aired their concerns.
Much of the MPs’ angst had as its source the operation of the Premier’s office, those in attendance said.
Asked if he would try to make changes to his style, Mr Barnett said: “I think I am a decisive leader. Sometimes people might find that a little abrupt. I think, sometimes, because I like to get on with the job and deal with issues quickly, maybe people think I don’t listen enough. And I accept that criticism.”
Mr Barnett made a commitment to run a more consultative government and acknowledged the criticism of his office.