Se­na­tor blasts Libs over La­bor free run

The West Australian - - NEWS - Nick But­terly and Daniel Mercer

WA Lib­eral se­na­tor Dean Smith has hit out at party power­bro­kers over the de­ci­sion not to run a can­di­date in the com­ing Perth by-elec­tion, warn­ing they have given Bill Shorten a “free kick” in WA.

The broad­side came as Mr Shorten made a light­ning visit to Perth to taunt the Lib­er­als for run­ning dead in the poll, sug­gest­ing Mal­colm Turn­bull could be avoid­ing voter anger over the Gov­ern­ment’s lack of ac­tion on GST.

Writ­ing in The West Aus­tralian, Se­na­tor Smith says the de­ci­sion not to run by the State ex­ec­u­tive of the WA Lib­er­als had “sur­prised and up­set” many grass­roots party mem­bers.

He said it was not too late for the party to re­think the de­ci­sion and put for­ward a can­di­date.

“Lib­er­als do not have the lux­ury of be­ing pes­simistic about their fu­ture elec­toral prospects whether in a Perth by-elec­tion or across the 16 Fed­eral seats at the next gen­eral elec­tion,” Se­na­tor Smith writes.

The WA Lib­er­als have called a cri­sis meet­ing for this week­end to dis­cuss the de­ci­sion not to con­test Perth af­ter La­bor MP Tim Ham­mond quit and forced a by-elec­tion.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter and party power­bro­ker Mathias Cor­mann said this week the party had de­cided to de­vote its lim­ited re­sources to the Dar­ling Range by-elec­tion, trig­gered by the res­ig­na­tion of for­mer State La­bor MP Barry Ur­ban.

Se­na­tor Cor­mann said it made no sense to reach out to the busi­ness com­mu­nity for donations to fight for Perth if the party did not think it could be won.

La­bor holds Perth by a mar­gin of only 3.3 per cent.

Mr Shorten ac­cused Mr Turn­bull of “hid­ing” from vot­ers in Perth and Fre­man­tle by not run­ning can­di­dates in the two seats.

Mr Shorten claimed the Gov­ern­ment was also try­ing to avoid scru­tiny on its prom­ises to fix the GST carve-up af­ter re­ceiv­ing a key re­port from the Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion on the process.

La­bor has se­lected its for­mer party State sec­re­tary, Partick Gor­man, to con­test the seat.

“He knows that his prom­ises on GST that he makes here, he’s not go­ing to keep on the east coast,” Mr Shorten said. “The ques­tion is what is Mr Turn­bull hid­ing when he doesn't want to sub­mit his gov­ern­ing party to the ver­dict of the Aus­tralian peo­ple?”

Picture: Nic El­lis

Bill Shorten, Patrick Gor­man, and shadow trea­surer Chris Bowen with lab­o­ra­tory stud­ies stu­dents Ah­mad Jabr and Ste­fa­nia Gar­cia at the East Perth TAFE cam­pus.

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