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Malcolm Turnbull must learn from how we voted

Malcolm Turnbull does not want to become Colin Barnett — the Colin Barnett who spent the best part of four weeks of an election campaign talking about Pauline Hanson.

The preference deal between the WA Liberals and One Nation, whereby the Hanson party would get Upper House preferences ahead of the Nationals, was like a giant vacuum, sucking the air out of the Premier’s campaign.

It got to the point that Barnett would make jokes about spotting Pauline in nearby trees.

This would not have been such a problem if the Barnett administration was ahead in the polls. Instead, it needed to make up a lot of ground and that required clear air to attack Labor and set out its own plans.

That did not happen.

Those behind the preference deal concede they did not anticipate there would be so much interest in it, and that the Hanson campaign would implode. Instead of grabbing a few extra votes in key seats, the overall deal became a particularly smelly political albatross.

Malcolm Turnbull says his policy will protect the children of Australia.

So fast-forward to the next Federal campaign. How would the Prime Minister go answering questions every day about a preference deal between the Liberal and One Nation parties?

It would not work with voters who know in their guts that Turnbull abhors One Nation’s policy positions.

Then there are the economic implications of this election.

Voters, rightfully, were angry at how a State economy that was booming three years ago is now struggling. High unemployment, falling house prices, soaring insolvencies.

Jobs and growth — the mantra behind the Federal Government’s company tax cuts — will struggle in that sort of environment where the benefits from any such move will be measured in years, not months.

Look to see Labor now go even harder on the penalty rates issues, comparing and contrasting with the company tax cuts.

The last major Federal implication is the GST.

Expect Labor leader Mark McGowan to belt Turnbull around the GST issue from now until the next Federal election.

Turnbull can either sort out a longstanding GST solution, that would benefit the new McGowan government, or cop a shellacking in WA.

With Liberal-held Federal seats such as Pearce, Swan and Hasluck now in the sights of an emboldened ALP, the Turnbull Government may not have any option but to come up with a plan. And that just risks upsetting voters in other parts of the country.

Turnbull spent less than 24 hours in WA through the election campaign. But the poll’s results will reverberate through the Liberal Party for much longer.

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