Albanese, McGowan hold separate WA events

Michael RamseyAAP
Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese has arrived in Western Australia for a two-day visit.
Camera IconFederal Labor leader Anthony Albanese has arrived in Western Australia for a two-day visit.

Anthony Albanese has failed to join his state Labor colleagues on the campaign trail in Western Australia, nine days out from the state election.

The federal Labor leader arrived on Thursday for a two-day visit, his first to WA since the coronavirus pandemic arrived on Australian shores.

He is scheduled to meet with Premier Mark McGowan on Friday.

Mr Albanese's office said the pair were expected to stage a photo opportunity but there were no plans for them to campaign together.

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Polls show Labor is on course for a crushing victory at the March 13 election, with Mr McGowan enjoying a level of popularity his Canberra-based counterpart could only dream of replicating at a federal level.

With the premier campaigning in the state's south, Mr Albanese toured BHP's Kwinana nickel refinery with local federal MP Madeleine King.

Mr Albanese laughed off suggestions he was being snubbed by the premier.

"I'll be out and about and I'm seeing him tomorrow," he told reporters.

"Mark McGowan's a friend of mine, he's been a friend of mine for a very long time. Mark McGowan's in a state election campaign that's about state issues.

"I've been here talking about jobs in WA, tomorrow I'll be talking about our national childcare policy that will help people in Western Australia and I'll be meeting with a whole range of people."

Mr McGowan told local media in Albany he was planning to host Mr Albanese at his office.

"He's welcome in Western Australia, as indeed is the prime minister," he said.

"I note the prime minster has declined to come to our state."

The premier has been on the defensive in recent days after signalling that WA will retain border restrictions beyond the pandemic.

He was forced to back down from a suggestion that authorities might continue to enforce tracking of incoming travellers to curb drug trafficking.

Mr McGowan also defended comments made at a business breakfast, where he questioned "the full efficacy" of coronavirus vaccines in the context of whether it was necessary for WA to keep its controlled interstate borders.

"I don't know how well the vaccine will work but I encourage everyone to take the vaccine," he later told reporters, adding that WA would retain the option of closing borders.

With the prime minister steering clear, it was left to federal cabinet minister Michaelia Cash to launch the WA Liberals' campaign launch this week.

The launch came days after Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup conceded the party couldn't win the election.

Mr Kirkup, who is battling to save his own marginal seat of Dawesville, on Thursday claimed the premier had "fled the city".

"After a couple of days of bad media, he's down in regional Western Australia trying to avoid Anthony Albanese and probably further public scrutiny," he said.

Almost 200,000 West Australians have already voted, with the final early votes tally expected to surpass one million.

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