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McGowan must get straight to work to deliver on mandate

One of the last appeals Colin Barnett made to voters before the election was to be bold.

And bold they were. They cut him down and threw out a raft of his Liberal MPs, including several ministers. With the State facing a huge deficit and debt burden, a spluttering economy and widespread job losses, even the legacy of significant infrastructure projects was not going to save Mr Barnett.

The depth and breadth of the mood for change was revealed in the ReachTEL poll published in The Weekend West on Saturday. It showed Labor ahead of the Liberals on all key measures including, crucially, on which party they believed was better able to restore the State’s finances.

This was despite the fact that the government had proposed to slice debt by privatising Western Power, while Labor offered no quick fix, but just pledged to wind back debt slowly.

Tellingly, the ReachTEL poll found that voters chose resistance to privatising Western Power and a simple desire for change as the most significant factors for the swing to Labor.

They also marked down the Liberals for doing a preference deal with One Nation. In the end, One Nation failed to have the impact which had been predicted, its allure fading when the glare of an election campaign was shone its way.

Although the Upper House is likely to include some minor parties which have made an art form of maximising preferences, voters did not just spray votes around in protest, they made a deliberate vote for a change of government.

The burden of office now falls on Mark McGowan, who has emerged as a consistent and measured leader. And, perhaps most significantly, he was not Mr Barnett.

The brutal way Mr Barnett was thrown out should not detract from his outstanding record of service through a long and distinguished career as an opposition leader, minister and premier.

The Liberal Party needs to regroup and rebuild. Democracies rely on strong oppositions to keep the pressure on governments.

Mr McGowan must get straight to work. He needs to push vigorously for WA jobs. Part of this should be to lobby the Federal Government to release the funds it had promised for the Perth Freight Link project, which Mr McGowan said he would redirect to other projects.

Minor parties which manage to trade their way into the Upper House must not be obstructionist.

Mr McGowan has a thumping mandate. He must be allowed to deliver.

And this newspaper will ensure he is held to account along the way.

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