Mark McGowan’s landslide election triumph has been hailed as Labor’s greatest ever victory in WA.
Labor secured dramatic swings while the Liberals’ primary vote collapsed and several ministers were bundled out of parliament.
Colin Barnett, who was deposed after more than eight years in the top job, said his government’s long tenure was the biggest factor in the huge defeat, which underscored the “brutal, harsh business of politics”.
Labor enjoyed a night of unbridled jubilation at the sheer magnitude of its victory.
To the strains of AC/DC’s TNT, McGowan, set to be sworn in as the State’s 30th premier, was given the rock star treatment when he entered the Gary Holland Community Centre in Rockingham at about 9.20pm.
Flanked by his wife Sarah and three children, an ebullient Mr McGowan thanked WA voters, who he said had voted for “hope and opportunity” and spoke of his love for the State.
“Can I say this: Western Australia is truly a wonderful State.
“I love this place … It has done more for me than I can ever repay … I came here 27 years ago in my Corolla across the Nullarbor and today the people of WA made me Premier. Thank you.”
It had been Sarah who had encouraged Mr McGowan to keep going after he was well beaten in the 2013 election.
“She told me after 2013 ‘You can win’,” Mr McGowan reflected.
They kissed in front of the crowd, as he told Sarah he loved her.
For the people of WA, he said: “I won’t let you down. We will govern for everyone.”
And in a clear dig at One Nation he said: “Today, West Australians voted for hope and opportunity over desperation and division.
“Today, we showed we are a State of decency and intelligence. Not a State of stupidity and ignorance.”
He acknowledged “with success comes responsibility” and he promised to deliver good government and follow through on promises to create jobs, build Metronet and not privatise Western Power.
Mr McGowan thanked a long list of people who had helped him, including his support team and his staff.
“Can I particularly thank the people who came from over east to help and I want to mention a few … can I thank Bob Hawke.
“I achieved one of my life time ambitions in this campaign, I had a beer with Bob Hawke.
“Can I thank Bill Shorten, who came over three times during the course of the campaign, and can I thank former premier Geoff Gallop who came from Sydney to help as well.
“And can I also acknowledge someone who didn’t come from far away, but my friend and mentor Kim Beazley, a great West Australian.
“Without Kim, I wouldn’t be standing here tonight.”
Mr McGowan and Labor will hold a commanding majority in the Legislative Assembly with The West Australian predicting Labor will hold at least 35 seats, with another four, including Joondalup, Kalamunda, Kingsley and Murray Wellington, still too close to call.
The Labor Party swept up seats across the metropolitan area, and have dramatically changed the state’s electoral pendulum.
Victories for Labor candidates in Balcatta, Belmont, Bicton, Burns Beach, Darling Range, Forrestfield, Morley, Mount Lawley, Perth, Southern River, Swan Hills and Wanneroo came after double digit swings against sitting Liberal MPs.
In Bunbury, Labor candidate and former South West Development Commissioner chief executive Don Punch beat Liberal candidate Ian Morison with a swing of 23.3 per cent.
The Liberals are currently winning just 11 seats, after several ministers were defeated as part of the mammoth swing against the Barnett Government. The Nationals are expected to hold at least five seats.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation had a disappointing night, recording just 4.6 per cent of the primary vote.
The Greens recorded a small increase on their 2013 result with 8.6 per cent of the vote. The National Party was slightly down, but held key seats.