23/05/2022 - 11:22

McGowan says Dutton 'not that smart', hopes China syndrome ends

23/05/2022 - 11:22

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In a post-federal election spray, Premier Mark McGowan attacks Peter Dutton's intellect and calls for an end to hostilities with China.

McGowan says Dutton 'not that smart', hopes China syndrome ends
Premier Mark McGowan delivered a post-election press conference this morning. Photo: David Henry

Premier Mark McGowan has labelled Peter Dutton an "extremist" who isn't very smart, called for a reset of the Australia-China relationship and described the state Liberals as a "fringe group" with no talent during a stinging post-federal election press conference.

After being credited with helping his federal Labor colleagues win office through another Liberal election rout in Western Australia, Mr McGowan was in a caustic mood.

"He's an extremist," he said of Mr Dutton, who is expected to become the next leader of the federal Liberals.

"I actually don't think he's that smart.

"I've seen him present on things and I don't pick up there's much there."

The loss of five federal Liberal seats, including the once blue-ribbon seat of Curtin - which currently hangs in the balance - was an indictment on the party, according to the premier.

'They've become a fringe group," he said.

"They don't have very talented people in the state and federal parliaments.

"They are not the party they were when I was first elected.

"These days they just don't appeal to the mainstream."

He said Scott Morrison's decision to intervene in favour of billionaire Clive Palmer's challenge to the Western Australia border cost the Liberals dearly.

When Mr Morrison publicly warned Western Australia it would likely lose the case, the die was cast. 

"A terrible decision," he said. "Join with Clive Palmer? Why would you do that? He's like kryptonite."

On the weekend, outgoing Federal attorney general Michaelia Cash revealed she and colleague Ben Morton had advised the prime minister to stay out of the Palmer border battle.

"We did not support siding with Clive Palmer, but the decision was made that we would," senator Cash said.

"That initial decision to back Clive Palmer, even though we reversed it, meant the Labor Party was able to run an effective campaign against us. It certainly had an impact on the vote."

Always cautious about Australia's issues with China, the premier hoped Anthony Albanese would end the hostile relationship with the superpower.

"I urge a reset on the relationship," he said.

"It would be good for us if we can at least talk to them rather than this megaphone diplomacy.

"Peter Dutton talked about war and war footing.

"That's absolutely crazy. We're a country of 25 million people and China's a country of 1.4 billion people with nuclear weapons."

He said his government hoped to have better cooperation from federal Labor around the Westport development, which is planned to replace the Fremantle port by 2032.

Also on the list for discussion was further help with staffing Western Australia's health system, and Mr McGowan hoped the new prime minister would ensure the Activ Foundation - and its work programs for people with disabilities - could remain operating.

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