Former WA Liberals leader Zak Kirkup bears brunt of scathing internal election review – ABC News

Posted: August 30, 2021 at 2:48 am

Appointing Zak Kirkup WA Liberal leader before the party's March state election disaster was "a desperate and ill-advised move" that should never have happened, according to those tasked with determining what led to the landslide result.

And the authors of that damning internal review lashed the MPs who made the decision to elect Mr Kirkup for their "staggering laziness", finding many of them did not make a single phone call or knock on any doors during that ill-fated campaign.

The 2021 Liberal election review, which pointed to "unethical and underhand" conduct by party members and MPs in calling for sweeping reforms of the party, saved some of its harshest criticisms for the decision to elect Mr Kirkup leader just four months from the election.

"Surely there were better choices for leader," the review, from a three-person panel headed by party elder Danielle Blain, stated.

ABC News: Hugh Sando

"It is difficult to accept there were no other options available for a more senior MP to assume the leadership.

"It should never have happened, and all members of the parliamentary wing who actively encouraged this move must take responsibility for that, as they should for the election result.

"Zak Kirkup was just too inexperienced and perhaps a little overwhelmed."

The review blasted the campaign Mr Kirkup led, saying there was "policy disconnect" and his statement that the party could not win the election "caused much anger and loss of morale".

"[It] critically had a significant negative impact on most of the party candidates standing for election," it stated.

While Mr Kirkup was the MP singled out for the strongest criticism by name, many of the party's most powerful identities were not named in the report.

It comes after more than 700 pages ofmessages between party powerbrokers were leaked to the media, revealinginternal game-playing and branch stacking.

AP: Patrick Sison

Other MPs were also lashed for their failure to appropriately campaign.

In what was labelled "staggering laziness" and "poor performance", four of the 13 MPs did not knock on a single door of a constituent in the four months prior to the election.

And five MPs were not recorded as registering a single phone call during that same period.

Both practices are seen as basics of political campaigning.

Meanwhile, policies such as Mr Kirkup's contentious 'green energy plan' also faced heavy criticism.

"The Liberal Party lost most of its voter base, who deserted it, because of its leadership squabbles, factional activities and loss of principles," the report states.

"The state party lost its way because its members were more concerned about holding power than the power of ideas.

"It failed on both counts."

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Former WA Liberals leader Zak Kirkup bears brunt of scathing internal election review - ABC News

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