The Western Australian Liberal Party have traditionally wiped their feet on the Nationals over there.
Brendon Grylls has reinvented them, borrowing from the country independents in the eastern states. The newest of them, Rob Oakeshott, a former Nats political staffer reinvented as a bloke of the people, pulled in nearly two thirds of the primary vote in the National party heartland seat. It was a stunning display.
He can’t be bought off with benefits for himself. He wants benefits for rural and regional parts of the state so he can build a political base there.
So despite being the balance of power in the Parliament, the thirty-five year old leader isn’t tempted by being Deputy Premier and a state minister.
He doesn’t want perks, he wants power.
He knows if he does the predictable thing and forms a coalition government with the Liberals, he’ll be very vulnerable to attack.
So instead, he’s holding the state to ransom to ensure that a greater proportion of the state’s revenue go to the state’s regional areas populated by blokes who wear King Gee and get paid six figure sums to live in isolated mining towns and aren’t comfortable unless their frosty brew is served by a topless wench.
Grylls doesn’t much like the Liberal leader Colin Barnett, who clashed with him over preferences during the election. At one stage Barnett refused to meet with Grylls while he was threatening to give preferences to Labor.
Barnett brought his party to the brink of victory but now seems incapable of grovelling sufficiently enthusiastically to the Nationals to deliver government.
WA Liberals will need to make the cultural change very quickly.
The new National party approach in WA is to refuse ministerial office and offer to the Liberals first and then to Labor the chance to meet its regional agenda in return for support in the parliament.
With Oakeshott’s election in Lyne, you have to wonder how many more seats the Nats have to lose before they wake up.