WA election warning

WHILE the Court Government should win the next election by a narrower margin than the last State poll, industry needed to get friendly with “the others” just in case.

This was the message Barmac Consulting principal and former State opposition leader Barry MacKinnon told the WA Urban Development Industry Association State conference in Dunsborough at the weekend.

Mr MacKinnon said industries had to ensure they were familiar with all parties.

“Become well informed about the people who may well be active leaders after the election. Do not wait until the election is over,” he said.

“Identify the key people and communicate with them, be they ministers, backbench government members, independents or key opposition members.

“Your involvement in this way now will be worth much more, irrespective of who wins, than after the campaign is over when you will be competing with everyone else in a very long queue.”

He said the attitudes of politicians could change when they were in government or opposition.

“Make sure your communication is good with opposition members,” Mr MacKinnon said.

“I would start right now on building your relations.”

The Greens, Democrats and independents also need to be courted, as they could have the power to determine legislation.

Mr MacKinnon reserved a special warning for the UDIA.

“Avoid involvement in elections as much as possible,” he said.

“During elections and the lead up to them, politicians become over sensitive to comments from groups like your own.

“Politicians get very nervous in the lead up to an election. They read things into statements that are not even there.”

He said it was important not to get involved in media slanging debates.

“The media is your enemy not your friend certainly at this point of time,” Mr MacKinnon said.

“Stay out of the media.”

He said that generally governments lost elections, rather than opposition parties winning them.

There were several factors that could deny the Coalition a third term in office.

“The first is the cyclical nature of politics. In most circumstances the party that wins an election after being out of office for some time previously will almost always win the next.”

Parties could also “tire” while in office.

“(They) become increasingly captive to the bureaucracy and of course upset growing numbers of people over time as they make decisions in office,” Mr MacKinnon said.

“Also, the ministry hasn’t changed a lot over time and it can hardly be said that there is an abundance of talent either in or outside of Cabinet that appeals to the public as offering dynamic government for the future.”

The Finance Brokers Scandal had also damaged the Government badly, he said.

“While not an issue of the same magnitude as the old WA Inc. scandals it’s none the less hurting the Government in the electorate.

“The issue includes amounts of money people can relate to and so its impact is more than might be anticipated.”

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