Historic deal should have South West Nationals nervous | EDITORIAL

Done deal: Premier Colin Barnett's preference deal with Pauline Hanson may have implications beyond the election. Photo: Richard Polden.
Done deal: Premier Colin Barnett's preference deal with Pauline Hanson may have implications beyond the election. Photo: Richard Polden.

There has only been one topic of conversation in Western Australia’s halls of power this week.

It is the historic preference deal struck between the Liberal party and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

In exchange for One Nation’s preferences in all lower house seats where they are fielding a candidate (including Mandurah), the Liberal party will preference One Nation in all upper house regions except for the Agricultural region, where they will preference Rick Mazza from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party.

In Mandurah, One Nation candidate Doug Shaw will preference Liberal Lynne Rowlands ahead of Labor’s David Templeman.

Even though the seat is still considered a safe bet for Mr Templeman, every single vote counts.

In the upper house, the Liberal party will be preferencing One Nation’s Colin Tincknell ahead of former minister and National party president Colin Holt, putting his seat under threat.

In the South West region in 2013, the Nationals won just over three quarters of the votes they needed to win an upper house seat in their own right. Mr Holt might be struggling to hold on.

Not only has the deal delivered a spectacular blow to the National party, who will only receive Liberal preferences that trickle down from One Nation, many are questioning Premier Colin Barnett’s strategy in locking out the Liberal party’s traditional coalition partners.

Some pundits are saying the deal is Mr Barnett’s last chance to hold on to power; the premier needs every vote and every preference he can soak up to get across the line.

But the ramifications of the deal with One Nation might stretch well beyond the next election.

Tensions between the Liberal party and the Nationals have been simmering in Western Australia for years, especially since Nationals leader Brendon Grylls contemplated handing government to Labor after the 2008 election.

Mr Barnett might win the most seats of any party, but face a hostile National party reluctant to govern in coalition and an upper house full of One Nation members only too willing to block his agenda.