Libs defend Premier’s long absence in Albany electorate

Gareth ThomasAlbany Advertiser
Premier Colin Barnett.
Camera IconPremier Colin Barnett. Credit: The West Australian, Michael Wilson

Liberal Party candidate Greg Stocks says he is confident the Premier will pay a visit to the seat of Albany during the State election campaign despite being a no-show so far.

Premier Colin Barnett has not been to Albany on official business since July, in contrast to both the Labor and Nationals party leaders, who have each visited twice so far this year.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan has visited four times in the past few months, while Nationals Leader Brendon Grylls has made several publicised appearances alongside candidate Rob Sutton in the seat.

While the election campaign officially started yesterday, Mr Barnett admitted his party had begun unofficial campaigning last year.

A spokesman from Mr Barnett’s office said they would not be “telegraphing in advance when and where the Premier will be travelling” but Mr Barnett had been a “regular visitor to the region”.

While Mr Barnett has yet to visit Albany, he has travelled to several other regional cities including Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Geraldton, Collie, Manjimup, Bunbury, Mandurah and Esperance in recent months.

Mr Stocks said an official request to visit Albany had been lodged and he would receive 24-48 hours notice before any planned visit by the Premier.

Mr Stocks said he would be in full campaign mode following the issue of writs yesterday and had already locked in multiple senior ministers to visit Albany over the coming weeks.

“He (Mr Barnett) will manage his diary as he sees fit and most appropriate, and we have to fit into that,” he said.

Albany MLA Peter Watson said the number of visits the Premier made to Albany was disappointing and was reflected in his lack of support for the town.

“He doesn’t seem to like Albany,” he said.

“I think the Albany region deserves to have the Premier of WA coming down and finding out what the issues are.”

Nationals WA candidate for Albany Rob Sutton said the Nationals would continue to visit Albany as they were “serious” about getting their candidate elected.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will be in Albany this weekend to launch the Liberal Party campaign for the seat of Albany, and Mr Stocks said local policy announcements would come over the forthcoming weeks.

Nominations for the March 11 election close February 10.

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