Kirkup grilled over ability to lead Liberal party

WA Liberal leader and Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup found himself under the blowtorch as reporters questioned his ability to lead the state as Premier at a press conference on Friday morning.

Mr Kirkup was on deck at Peel Health Campus to announce a $167 million election commitment to upgrade the Mandurah-based hospital.

But political journalists Geof Parry (Channel 7) and Gary Adshead (Channel 9) took the chance to grill the opposition leader on his capacity to lead Western Australia, after he revealed he was diagnosed with depression.

Mr Kirkup spoke to both Mr Adshead and The West Australian political reporter Peter Law about his mental health struggles earlier this week, saying he went through his "darkest days" last summer.

In the following exchange between Mr Kirkup and Mr Adshead on Friday morning, the latter claimed the opposition leader told him he "didn't want to do the job" just three days prior.

Mr Adshead: "Three days ago, you told me that you didn't want to do this job, that you couldn't do this job, and you were being forced to do this job because the party needed you to. What's changed?"

Mr Kirkup: "Of course, Gary, we all have good days and bad. I've gone through the darkest times of my life, and successfully moved to the point that we know it's important to recognise when you have good days and bad days."

Mr Adshead: "Zak, with due respect I'm talking three days ago. You adamantly told me you could not do this and you did not want to carry on, you know that. I'm just trying to get to the chase here, three days ago, not last year, you were in a situation where you were very, very fragile and not in a position, you said, to carry on."

Mr Kirkup: "My position, Gary, and obviously you'd expect that someone who had gone through the very darkest of times, understands the difference from the day to day."

WA Liberal party leader Zak Kirkup was questioned about his ability to lead the state at a press conference in Mandurah today. Photo: Justin Rake.

WA Liberal party leader Zak Kirkup was questioned about his ability to lead the state at a press conference in Mandurah today. Photo: Justin Rake.

Mr Kirkup was also questioned on whether he would "throw in the towel" as leader of the Liberal party ahead of the election, should it prove to be what's best for his mental health, to which he responded: "I think it's what I've learnt more than anything else, is that you need to look after yourself."

The Dawesville MP became the youngest WA Liberal leader in history when he was appointed to the role last month, after Liza Harvey stood down from the post.

He was joined at Peel Health Campus by newly-appointed deputy leader Libby Mettam, who was adamant Mr Kirkup was fit to lead the state as Premier.

"I actually think that he has illustrated not a weakness, but a strength," she said.

"I have every confidence in Zak as the leader of the opposition."