Liberal-Labor face-off proves reminder
Colin Barnett and Mark McGowan have taken their election pitches prime time as they faced off in a leaders’ debate that failed to scale great heights or trip either contender up in a “gotcha” moment.
The only televised leaders’ debate of the 2017 campaign did not involve direct verbal interaction between the opponents, who were questioned by leading Perth journalists in a format moderated by Today Tonight’s Monika Kos.
The men outlined vastly differing visions for WA last week.
But neither landed a knockout blow. They returned to wellrehearsed lines and policy scripts, with no policy announcements.
The Premier used his opening pitch to outline the massive investment by his Government in schools and “a total rebuilding” of the State’s hospital system.
Mr Barnett said he had led a stable, respected Government since 2008 and while he acknowledged many people were doing it tough and unemployment was too high, the WA economy had expanded in real terms by 40 per cent.
“No other State has matched that,” Mr Barnett said.
Mr McGowan hammered home key themes of record debt and deficit and attacked the Government for failing to announce enough savings during the campaign.
The Labor leader returned repeatedly to the Liberals’ plan to privatise 51 per cent of Western Power to wipe off $8 billion of debt and unlock $3 billion for infrastructure, pointing out that Mr Barnett had spent much of his political career arguing for public retention of energy infrastructure.
Mr McGowan made Mr Barnett’s retirement plans part of his attack, accusing the Premier of cutting when the going was tough.
Mr Barnett said West Australians should have confidence voting for a Liberal team which had delivered for the State, despite Labor opposition.
But the Premier hit back on Mr McGowan’s capability to lead the State, arguing the Labor leader had “virtually no international experience”.