National Party holds the key to West Australian election outcome

The National Party’s four parliamentarians hold the key to deciding whether the Labor or Liberal party will form government in Western Australia.

The National Party’s four parliamentarians hold the key to deciding whether the Labor or Liberal party will form government in Western Australia.

The incumbent Labor Government led by premier Alan Carpenter was expected to cruise to victory in Saturday’s election, but a strong campaign by Liberal leader Colin Barnett led to a 6% swing against the ALP.

Labor has 25 seats, the Liberals have 21, the Nationals have four, independents have three and there are six undecided seats.

That leaves 35-year-old National Party leader Brendon Grylis in a strong position – both Labor and the Liberals will have to make a deal with him if they want to form a minority government.

While most political analysts expect the Nationals to come down on the side of their Federal Coalition partners the Liberals, Grylis says he is prepared to back whichever party supports his “royalties for regions” plan, which is designed to deliver more of the windfall from the state’s mining royalties back to the regional areas the mines are located in.

Grylis wants 25% of the mining royalties to go back to the regional areas and $675 million to fix infrastructure in regional areas. During the election, Barnett and Carpenter dismissed Grylis’ demand as a stunt. Now they are scrambling to put the plan in place.

The huge swing against Labor is seen as another blow against the ALP, which suffered an 8% swing against it in last month’s Northern Territory election.

A Liberal win in WA would also break Labor’s stranglehold on the parliaments of Australia; it currently holds power in every state and territory and federally.

The poor election result could also spell the end of the reign of Alan Carpenter as Labor leader.

A Liberal win is likely to be welcomed by business groups, after Colin Barnett promised to cut payroll tax during the election campaign.

Meanwhile, two federal by-elections were held on Saturday. In the NSW seat of Lyne, popular independent Robert Oakeshott broke the National Party’s 60-year strangehold in an easy victory. In South Australia, Liberal candidate Jamie Briggs narrowly won the seat of Mayo, which was formerly held by retiring Liberal Alexander Downer.

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