When Kevin Rudd won Australia’s General Election last year he ensured that the Australian Labor Party ruled in every state and at the federal level – the first time that any party had a clean sweep of power across Australia.
The Liberal Party’s best hope of changing that comes when the very prosperous Western Australia goes to the polls. The election does not have to be held until 2nd May next year but Liberal turmoil may encourage the state’s Labor premier to seek an early re-election. Liberal chances of avoiding defeat have improved over the last 48 hours because of the decision of their leader, Troy Buswell, to step down. As Peter van Onselen explains in The Australian it’s something Mr Buswell should have done long before now:
"Earlier this year Buswell was exposed for having sniffed the chair of a female staff member when he was deputy leader in 2005. He also had been outed for having unwontedly flicked open the bra strap of a Labor staff member at a boozy drinks party."
Former West Australian Opposition Leader Colin Barnett is now expected to succeed Boswell.
One of the main reasons for the weakness of the Australian Liberal Party at state level is that the party’s best talents – at elected official and staff level – migrated to Canberra during the John Howard years. The rebuilding will take some years.