08/08/2008 - 08:51

Barnett to announce frontbench

08/08/2008 - 08:51


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Opposition leader Colin Barnett is expected to announce his shadow ministry at noon today as the count down to the state election begins.

Barnett to announce frontbench

Opposition leader Colin Barnett is expected to announce his frontbench at noon today as the count down to the state election begins.

An opposition spokesperson confirmed to WA Business News this morning that Mr Barnett will be making an announcement today.

Yesterday Premier Alan Carpenter called for a September 6 election, a move that surprised many who had been banking on an October/November election.

The Premier had until May 2 to call the election.

It has been a jam-packed week for politics with Mr Carpenter's move yesterday coming 24 hours after Mr Barnett was elected to lead the Liberal Party following Troy Buswell's surprise resignation on Monday.

Mr Barnett's re-election as leader has thrown a curve ball for former Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA policy director Diedre Willmott's political career.

She was previously the endorsed Liberal candidate to contest the seat of Cottesloe, a seat that Mr Barnett had held for 18 years and was expected to leave after earlier announcing his retirement plans.

However now with Mr Barnett firmly in the picture Ms Willmott has been left seat-less, after she rejected an offer to run in Nedlands. Earlier this week the Liberal Party was trying to find Ms Willmott a seat.

Meanwhile several political analysts and commentators have said the election battle between
Mr Barnett and Mr Carpenter could get personal.

Mr Carpenter, a former journalist who entered politics in 1996, is yet to test his leadership with voters.

As premier, he is also untested against Mr Barnett, an 18-year political veteran who was recalled to the Liberal leadership after the party's woes under his misbehaving predecessor, Troy Buswell.

But the pair have a history.

It goes back to the election campaign of 2001, when Mr Carpenter was shadow minister in several portfolios, including education.

The day before polling, Mr Carpenter and Mr Barnett, then education minister in the Court government, went head-to-head in a radio debate on public schooling.

Mr Barnett took umbrage at being asked whether his young son went to a government or private school.

Describing the question as "the dirtiest, lowest thing I've seen in this campaign", Mr Barnett threw his headphones on the console, leaned over and struck Mr Carpenter on the arm with a bundle of papers.

Mr Carpenter later said: "I've suffered more powerful blows from my six-year-old daughter. He could not intimidate me in a month of Sundays."

The encounter revealed the bulldog in Mr Carpenter, and why he was to move so fast up the Labor ranks.
Mr Carpenter took over the state's top job in early 2006 when then Premier Dr Geoff Gallop resigned.


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