18/01/2008 - 12:38

Buswell under attack from Labor, Nats

18/01/2008 - 12:38


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New Western Australian Liberal leader Troy Buswell came under attack today from both the Labor government and former coalition partner The Nationals.

Buswell under attack from Labor, Nats

New Western Australian Liberal leader Troy Buswell came under attack today from both the Labor government and former coalition partner The Nationals.

Acting WA premier Eric Ripper said Mr Buswell's betrayal of two previous leaders would come back to haunt him.

Mr Buswell, the former Liberal deputy, ousted Paul Omodei in a leadership spill yesterday.

Mr Omodei took over in March 2006 from Matt Birney who Mr Buswell was accused of betraying for saying he had voted for him when he in fact voted for Mr Omodei.

Mr Ripper today said leadership works best when there was mutual loyalty - but Mr Buswell could not count on this.

"In order to receive loyalty you've got to give loyalty and Mr Buswell has now betrayed two leaders of the opposition and I think this lack of loyalty on his part will come back to haunt him in his leadership," he told reporters.

Mr Ripper said Mr Buswell also was handicapped by his experience and by the lack of Liberal party women in the Lower House.

Liberal MP Katie Hodson-Thomas, who this week accused Mr Buswell of making sexist remarks towards her, has announced she will retire at the next state election.

And the only other Liberal woman in the Lower House, legal affairs spokeswoman Sue Walker did not turn up for yesterday's leadership vote, prompting Mr Ripper to speculate she was giving "every sign of becoming an independent".

The acting premier denied Mr Buswell would be a more formidable opponent than Mr Omodei or that the government would conduct a dirt campaign against him.

However, Mr Ripper said Mr Buswell's record as Busselton shire president would be examined and he would have to explain any links with former disgraced Liberal powerbroker Noel Crichton-Browne, including an alleged meeting in a car outside Parliament House at the time of the corruption inquiry last year.

Mr Ripper said he was not in favour of an early election, and suggested February 2009 was the most likely date for it to be held.

Meanwhile the Nationals WA leader Brendon Grylls said the change in the Liberal leadership signals the start an all-out war between the major parties for political ascendancy in the populous coastal strip from Mindarie to Margaret River.

He warned that people living outside the metropolitan and coastal "hot spot" could expect little attention from the major parties in the coming months.

"I congratulate Troy Buswell on his rise to leadership but there is no doubt he'll abandon the bush and focus the Liberals on the narrow strip that will contain 48 of the 59 Legislative Assembly seats at the next election," Mr Gylls said.

"Neither the Liberals nor Labor will lose too much sleep over the needs of people in the 11 Legislative Assembly seats outside the populous coastal strip."

Mr Grylls said The Nationals WA were unaffected by the Liberal leadership change and remained committed to winning the balance of power in State Parliament to protect the interests of regional, rural, and remote communities.

"Labor's electoral legislation has radically transformed the political landscape in WA and that's why the Nationals will not enter into coalition with either major political party before or after the next State election," he said.

"We are going to the next State election as independent conservative party to stand up for country people and have their claims listened to in the State Parliament."

Mr Grylls said with the balance of power in Parliament the Nationals could change the dynamics of the annual government spend for the benefit of country WA.

"Our Royalties for Regions policy, for example, is a non-negotiable plan to deliver to appropriate rural and regional projects the equivalent of 25 per cent of the State's annual mining and petroleum royalty receipts," he said.

"On 2008-09 projections, the WA Government will receive an estimated $2.7million in royalties and under our plan the equivalent of $675 million would be earmarked with regional and rural community projects."




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