Western Australian opposition leader admits defeat three WEEKS before state election against premier whose border ban gave him a 93 per cent approval rating
- WA opposition leader has conceded defeat ahead of March 13 state election
- Liberal leader Zak Kirkup is adamant Premier Mark McGowan won’t be ousted
- Recent poll showed Labor leading 68 to 32 per cent on two-party preferred basis
Western Australia‘s opposition leader has been accused of giving up after conceding the Liberals cannot win the state election.
The extraordinary admission from Zak Kirkup comes more than two weeks before the March 13 election with polls predicting a crushing Labor victory.
Warning of a Labor landslide which could reduce the Liberals to a handful of seats, Mr Kirkup is seeking to reframe the election as the only chance for voters to ensure there are checks and balances on the McGowan government.
‘As I get around the state, many Western Australians are telling me Mark McGowan’s job is safe,’ he said on Thursday.
Under pressure Western Australian opposition leader Zak Kirkup (pictured above) expects to lose the state election next month
Premier Mark McGowan (pictured above) has consistently downplayed polls highlighting Labor’s dominance in WA and his own personal popularity
‘We have to acknowledge that, because I don’t want to treat people like mugs.
‘I’m not going to stop fighting, but I’m not going to make this election about something it’s not.
‘Your vote is about who will fight for you locally.’
Having held the leadership for just three months, the 34-year-old first-term MP claims he is sacrificing himself and will fight hard to save as many of the Liberals’ 13 lower house seats and nine upper house seats as possible.
Premier Mark McGowan said Mr Kirkup’s attitude was not ‘the West Australian way’, adding that he had never considered conceding defeat when polls accurately predicted Labor was heading for defeat at the 2013 election.
‘It was a very difficult period but you always keep fighting and you don’t give in,’ he told reporters.
‘We didn’t give up when we were fighting for the GST or fighting Clive Palmer, fighting the Liberal Party over the borders, fighting to keep cruise ships out.
‘We didn’t give up and I think West Australians never give up.’
Betting agency Sportsbet responded on Thursday by announcing it is paying out early on Labor winning re-election.
The premier has consistently downplayed polls highlighting Labor’s dominance in WA and his own personal popularity.
But the parlous situation facing the Liberals has been underscored by the premier campaigning in safe blue seats such as the affluent southern Perth electorate of Bateman.
Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan (pictured above) has proven to be a very popular leader of his state
A recent Newspoll published by The Weekend Australian showed Labor leading 68 to 32 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.
Such a result on March 13 would wipe out a swathe of Liberal MPs and likely result in Mr Kirkup becoming the first major WA party leader in almost 90 years to lose their seat.
He holds the seat of Dawesville, an hour south of Perth, by just 0.8 per cent, making it the second-most marginal Liberal electorate.
Mr Kirkup will face off against the premier in a leaders debate on Thursday night which now appears certain to be dominated by the Liberals’ desperate bid for survival.
More than 15,000 ballots were cast on the first day of early voting, with more than one million West Australians expected to vote before polling day.