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How to lose an election in 12 easy steps: deposed minister Joe Francis dumps on Liberal Party state election campaign

Dumped minister Joe Francis has delivered a scathing assessment of his colleagues and the Liberal Party as he considers life outside politics.

Mr Francis has conceded his seat of Jandakot which was previously considered a Liberal stronghold.

The West’s state political editor Gary Adshead has broken down the former Corrective Services minister’s blast, topic by topic:

1 COLIN BARNETT

“I like Colin. He achieved so much. But a lot of things went wrong. Having a crack at the media when I’m trying to have a crack at the Labor Party probably doesn’t help the cause. A few of us should have stood up to him and maybe told him and picked up the phone to him a few more times. If a partyroom meeting is called the first thing I’d expect Colin Barnett to do is stand aside. It’s a foregone conclusion.”

2 THE PREMIER’S OFFICE

“There were a lot of issues. There was a lot of dysfunction between that office, ministers’ offices and backbenchers’ officers. That was a fact. Communications had broken down with a number of ministers. Colin was wrapped in cotton wool by people who just said yes to him. You shouldn’t be intimidated by having to talk to the media team in the leader’s office. It got to the stage where some people didn’t even bother picking up the phone.

3 BARNETT’S MYSTERY ILLNESS

The Premier only revealed during the campaign that he was suffering from a mystery blood disorder when he shed weight and walked with a limp last year. Mr Francis said everyone was lied to at the time about Mr Barnett’s health.

“I had a medical condition last year. For three years I had a very croaky voice. It took three specialists to tell me I had a tumour on my left vocal fold. I was open about that.”

Colin Barnett concedes defeat.

4 THE CAMPAIGN

“The public had stopped listening. The public had made its mind up. The Premier was cocooned somewhat by people in his office from the reality of what was happening in the electorates. (Labor’s) Fran Logan said there’d be serious consequences for anyone who tried to claim damages (over Roe 8 contracts). That should have been front page of every newspaper for the last two days of the campaign, but we were still talking about bloody preference deals. Mark McGowan was talking about the exceptionally important issue of jobs and the Premier was talking about statues at the stadium. There were a lot of bizarre media strategies in this campaign.”

5 THE FAST FERRY FRENZY

In the last week of the campaign there was a media event planned and then cancelled when ministers refused to take part in a publicity stunt on the Swan River.

“I didn’t think it was a good look as a marginal seat member to be fishing a day before an election and obviously Mike Nahan didn’t think it was a good look to be riding a jet ski. He can’t even ride a jet ski and never has. It’s not a good look before an election when so many people in his electorate probably had to sell their jet skis.”

6 TAXI DRIVERS

The compensation issue around the taxi industry after Uber was allowed to compete in the market went unresolved before the election.

“Mums and dads who borrowed against their mortgages to buy taxi plates from the Government in a regulated industry. Regardless of what you might think about the taxi industry or Uber, it was a regulated industry when they borrowed money. We should apologise for how we treated them.”

The PM’s announcing a $100 million ship-building commitment.

7 MALCOLM TURNBULL

“We’ve got an unpopular Liberal Government. It didn’t help that (Prime Minister) Malcolm Turnbull came to WA six months ago with promises on some kind of solution to the GST issue that all seemed to have been abandoned.”

8 ONE NATION

The Liberals did a preference deal to put One Nation ahead of the Nationals in the Upper House in exchange for One Nation preferences in the Lower House.

“What it did was deny the Premier and deny the Government clean air for two weeks. It gave everyone else, who may be more centre of politics, an excuse not to vote for us. If Pauline Hanson hadn’t come to WA I reckon One Nation might have had double the vote. I mean, who on earth is an anti-vaxxer these days? She destroyed her own party in one week.”

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson concedes the preference deal with Colin Barnett wasn’t the right thing to do.

9 BROKEN PROMISES

The Liberals were still bleeding over the broken Ellenbrook and Max Light Rail promises.

“I have a lot of sympathy for the people of Ellenbrook. I have a lot of sympathy for people that might have bought land on the promise by a politician that they may have got some infrastructure that wasn’t delivered. Politicians make mistakes, but we need to have the decency to admit we got it wrong and say sorry. That just hasn’t happened. We made promises we shouldn’t have made. Fair dinkum. Max Light Rail? I sat at the Cabinet table and watched it get debated so many times I lost count of whether we were doing it or not.”

10 ROE 8

“I was at a Chinese restaurant the other night in Leeming and a guy came up and said ‘You know, Joe, I’m a swinging voter and I want Roe 8, but I don’t want you to sell Western Power’. I still believe the majority of voters in Jandakot wanted Roe 8 but we gave them so many other reasons to vote us out it wasn’t even on their radar. We had a mandate from the last election to build the road. But, I’m sorry, it took three-and-a-half years to start. Politically it’s not a good look. I look at the land that’s been cleared and you can’t help but cringe.”

He promised to rip up the controversial road project as soon as he got into power…it might not be that simple.

11 LEADERSHIP TENSION

Liberal MP Dean Nalder tried and failed to bring down Mr Barnett’s leadership in September.

“There were a lot of people talking about it for some time. When Dean Nalder did, it galvanised people that weren’t in his camp behind the Premier. The mood of the party room just wasn’t there. There will be good MPs who have lost their seat and now regret not speaking up at the time.”

12 THE FUTURE

“It will be a much smaller party room. Whoever the leader is it will be much easier for them to pick up the phone and talk to their colleagues on a regular basis. Four years from now, who knows what will happen. Four years from now Bill Shorten may be the most unpopular Labor prime minister the country’s ever seen and the tide can swing back the other way.”

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