Bloodletting within the Liberals over its disastrous election loss shows no sign of abating, with State president Norman Moore admitting the party “didn’t run a good campaign”, despite knowing for 12 months the Barnett Government was doomed.
Factional chief Peter Collier also conceded the party should have dumped Colin Barnett as leader, as blame is being directed at the Premier and his small circle of advisers for the drubbing.
While much of the post-election post-mortem has focused on the fallout of the preference deal with One Nation, Liberals are privately complaining about the campaign’s brains trust known as “Team Blue”.
Team Blue was made up of Mr Barnett’s strategy head Narelle Cant, chief spin doctor Dixie Marshall, Liza Harvey’s chief of staff Ben Allen, Mr Collier as the parliamentary party’s representative and Liberal State director Andrew Cox, the only link back to the organisational wing.
Notably, Mr Moore was not a member, a snub one Liberal described as unprecedented.
“It is not the custom to have the campaign run by people who are not accountable to the party,” the source said.
Grievances included long waits for policies to emerge from the Premier’s office and frustration the Government never adequately explained the rising debt issue and how it would tackle unemployment.
Another Liberal said it was an error that Mr Barnett waited until Australia Day to begin campaigning in earnest instead of hitting the ground months earlier.
Business abandoning the Liberals also hurt fundraising, with Mr Moore lamenting yesterday “we were not competitive” as Labor and the unions outspent the Government five to one.
Mr Moore told the ABC the reality was the Liberals’ primary vote had been hovering at about 30 per cent in the year leading up to Saturday’s massacre.
“The bottom line is we were going to lose 12 months ago,” Mr Moore said.
“Everybody knew that, all the commentators knew that, the polls said that. Nothing changed throughout the campaign.
“We didn’t run a good campaign.”
While he took his share of responsibility for the campaign, Mr Moore told The West Australian he would not quit as president.
He again defended the preference deal with One Nation, saying it had been signed off unanimously by the 30-member State executive and the Government’s support actually rose slightly after the deal was done.
“It did not affect the end result at all and all our internal polling showed that,” he said.
Mr Collier, who was the Government’s Upper House leader, blamed the undermining sparked by former minister Dean Nalder’s failed leadership challenge against Mr Barnett in August for locking the party behind the Premier instead of switching to deputy Liza Harvey.
“If we had dealt with it in a more seamless fashion, we would have had a better outcome,” he told 6PR.