Riches to rags: Western Australia votes

Riches to rags: Western Australia votes

Western Australians will vote in a new state government on Saturday. Having presided over a mining boom and with little

Photo: ABC

Photo: ABC

Western Australians will vote in a new state government on Saturday. Having presided over a mining boom and with little to show for it, the end of the road beckons for Premier Colin Barnett.

His centre-right coalition has ruled the vast state for nine years but is facing voter backlash over poor economic management. At 6.5%, Western Australia has the country’s highest unemployment rate, and despite an influx of billions in resource investment, primarily from Asia, the state’s debt is set to reach a record high of $33.8 billion by June. Ratings agencies warned of this riches to rags story in 2014, when they stripped Australia’s largest state of its triple-A rating.

The centre-left Labor Party looks set to capitalise on Barnett’s economic mismanagement – a poll last month showed it with a commanding 8% lead. Predictably, Labor is running on a platform of job creation and promises to add 50,000 jobs.

Fuelling resentment against the Liberal Party – at least in some quarters – is its decision to preference the nationalist-populist One Nation over its current coalition partner, the Nationals.

In a similarly precarious position on the national level, Liberal PM Malcolm Turnbull will keep a close eye on Saturday’s vote.

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