Senator blasts Libs over Labor free run
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?”
Bill Shorten, Patrick Gorman, and shadow treasurer Chris Bowen with laboratory studies students Ahmad Jabr and Stefania Garcia at the East Perth TAFE campus.