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Why Barnett lost

By Tracie Aylmer

As the election finishes up and Upper House votes with preference deals are finalised, I would like to give another perspective on how Labor won so significantly. There were a number of issues. Two of those issues involved the selling of Western Power and Fremantle Port. A third issue was the destruction of the Beeliar Wetlands.

Recently, I had been involved with the protests against the Roe 8, 9 and 10 highway. It was an incredibly dumb idea, particularly when there was another option that is going to be much cheaper and more worthwhile.

As someone with a Masters degree, I saw highly educated people, grandmothers, mothers, teenagers, Councillors in local government, grandfathers, fathers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers and many other members of the community not just protest, but also be arrested at that site. Many people were happy to put their hands up. During rallies, people were divided into groups – one group unable to be arrested and the other group deliberately going out of their way to be arrested as the cause was too great. I was one of the people arrested. All I did was touch a fence.

When Barnett started bulldozing, a concerted effort was made to kick him out at the election. Groups of people got together to find ways in order to show exactly how bad an idea the destruction was. Signs went up, then Barnett’s followers took those signs down and put their own signs up. It led to a type of sign war, where signs were changed, then amended, then changed back again. People were fined or arrested for tooting their horns while driving past ‘No Roe 8’ signs, although in the end there were too many people tooting their horns and the police couldn’t arrest or fine everyone.

In four key electorates, a leaflet was letterbox dropped. Those electorates were Bicton, Southern River, Jandakot and Cottesloe. They were anti-Barnett leaflets designed to educate voters on just how much debt WA is now in due to Colin Barnett’s policies. It appears that those leaflets had made a difference. Key areas had a reduction in liberal votes.

Then there was that photo. A few Rethink the Link protesters wrote on their arms, then made sure to have a photo taken with Barnett. It was hard work getting that photo taken, as others had heckled Barnett shortly beforehand. The protesters had talked their way into it, and then the photo went viral. Barnett had no idea, and had a nice chat with one of the protesters. He hadn’t even realised that this particular protester had been arrested a few weeks prior, at the construction site.

Last week, another photo with Barnett had gone viral, this time with a person donning the prop for Barnaby the Carnaby Black Cockatoo. Barnett had continually stated that this threatened species had offsets for which they could fly to. It was a ridiculous statement. Since I live near the area, these cockatoos have been flying around trying to find out where they can settle. They are now displaced and even more threatened.

Then there was the video footage of a Pauline Hanson lookalike in a wedding gown, demanding to know what was going on with the preference deal and why he didn’t like her.

In addition were the Senate inquiries, of which there have been several throughout the last few years, as well as question upon question upon question. The secrecy had gotten to the whole community. We knew there was no business plan. We knew it was a case of throwing money away to the contractors that were Barnett’s mates. We saw through the poor excuses, and didn’t accept one single excuse that came out of Barnett’s mouth.

Then there was the land grab that tried to steal Native Title land off the Noongar People for the whole south west area of WA. This was completely unethical. Barnett had given funding to the organisation, in order to make sure that the deal happened. The Noongar People have wanted to unite ever since. They deserve much more respect than what they have been given. Barnett wanted to steal everything way from them, and give them a pittance in return. This included the area in the Beeliar Wetlands, which had been a birthing place for tens of thousands of years. The secret areas in the Wetlands were bulldozed without a second thought a few weeks ago. Many of us united with the Noongar People to shed streams of tears. Barnett does not like women.

All of the above showed not just creativity, but also how much we in WA did not want Barnett nor the Liberal Party. It was a concerted effort amongst the whole of the community. It wasn’t just one person. We had all united to overthrow Barnett and his lack of vision.

That is why Barnett lost so severely. We had all simply had enough. We joined together, and this is the result.

If McGowan shows any reconsideration for what the community wants and needs, we will show him exactly how we feel. We are strong in our community. We cannot be divided any longer. We know how to fight, and we will win whatever battle comes in place, of course using non-violent direct action.

McGowan has been placed on notice – include all of us or he will be shown the door. It’s that simple.



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  1. Tracie

    I so love that pic!

  2. etnorb

    What a great result for “decent” politics in WA! Visiting there in December last year it was obvious that Barnett was a “marked man”, especially where the Beeliar Wetlands & the Roe 8,9 & 10 Highway crap were concerned. Here’s hoping the incoming Labor lot can turn around the damage etc that has been done to the wetlands & scrap the ghastly idea. I hope times get better for WA, as we have many family/relatives who have had to endure Barnett for far too long already! Definitely a great photo too!

  3. keerti

    Via posts on facebook I watched the fight which involved friends and people who have lived In and around Fremantle for many years. Western Australians deserve high praise for a lot of hard work, risk taking and sacrifice. Hopefully this is the beginning of real people demanding honesty and integrity in politics.

  4. paulwalter

    I believe it. It is the way “government” is done these days, right across Australia.

    The difference in recent times is the sheer brazenness of it.

  5. Jaquix

    Fascinating to read some local background. He deserved to be trounced, yet still sits in parliament, hasnt even lost his job. Australia is sick of the Liberals, no question about that. They are out of touch and worse, they dont have the interests of the 90% at heart. And too much dodginess. Tsunami coming for you, Malcolm.

  6. Matters Not

    he will be shown the door. It’s that simple.

    To be replaced by whom? And to what effect? Will tweedle dee be replaced by tweedle dum?

    A safe prediction: I’ve just found that the State’s finances are in a much, much worse state than I was led to believe. It’s a mess! The heavens were about to fall. Shock! Horror! – and so on. The implication being that many of our promises will have to be delayed until this Budget crisis can be resolved which will happen in our next term. Promise!

    That it’s been heard so many times before will matter not. Certainly not in this honeymoon period.

  7. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks, Tracie. Wonderful background for those of us in the East who weren’t aware of a lot of these details. Love the photo.
    It was a massive swing, though. I’m wondering whether the penalty rates issue might have had a part to play.

  8. Terry2

    When the Newman government was swept from power in Queensland – after a win that had devastated the Labor party three years before – the catalyst was the threat to privatise Queensland’s electricity generation and distribution and the lie that a ninety-nine year lease would not be privatisation.

    It seems that the people in WA also understand that by selling off publicly owned, revenue generating assets for a one-off sugar hit is not good economic planning when it comes to essential services.

    If we had not sold off Telstra we might now be seeing much better internet connectivity in Australia and I might even get a mobile phone signal in my area.

    Selling off publicly owned assets is not always a sensible solution !

  9. Harquebus

    Now it is just a matter of how fast the new W.A. Labor Government’s popularity wanes. All the W.A. voters have done is replace one mob of stupid idiots with no real solutions with another equally stupid mob of idiots also with no real solutions.

    “Here’s the thing about the attempts by central banks to circumvent the workings of the actual economy by simply printing up money: It is doomed to fail. It always does; one cannot simply ‘print up’ prosperity. Printing up money merely creates the illusion of free wealth for those with first access to it. In reality, what happens is that it secretly transfers the wealth from everyone else to those lucky few.”
    “The world’s central banks, especially the Fed, have done an enormous amount of damage.”
    “You have to be quite delusional to think that debt can be compound at twice the rate of income forever.”
    “Those of us living in reality find this mindset puerile and insulting. And, of course, dangerously reckless. And it’s also maddening to hear the media cheerleaders for Wall Street selling us this bunk as if it were somehow sensible. It is not.”
    “We can also deduce that because economic growth is tightly linked to energy consumption, lower amounts of usable energy flowing through an economy will cause that economy to stall out as well.”
    “combining what we know about high levels of debt and flattening energy returns energy there’s really no more room for confusion about why GDP growth is, and will remain, anemic”
    “We have to ask: How many years does it take to finally admit that there’s something seriously wrong with our hopeful story line that robust growth is going to save our debt-ridden bacon?”

  10. Tracie

    The Roe 8 has stopped indefinitely. McGowan has noted that the Wetlands were one of the largest issues in WA. He is working for the people. Our new treasurer has done the right thing, and not put an end date to when the economy will be in the black. He said due to the squandering of the mining boom to create such phenomenal debt it’s going to take time to pay everything off.

    They have noted the corruption, and are going to finally make treasury documents public so we can see exactly how much damage has been done.

    @Kate the penalty issue meant next to nothing here. Local issues had taken precedence. Barnett tried to make the federal issues into something, but it backfired on him. Saving the Wetlands dominated literally everything here, including the news and radio.

  11. David Fernleigh

    I’d hope that he and colleagues are forced to pay for the restoration of the damage to the environment from their own pockets. We as a country cannot afford to allow these narrow minded politicians to push their hair brained schemes goth state and federally

  12. lawrencewinder

    I’m wondering too, whether there is an general awakening to the malaise afflicting this nation because of the ruling rabble being led by the narrow minded ideology of the IPA?

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