Leadership spill defeated, Barnett still WA Premier

PREMIER Colin Barnett has retained his leadership of the WA Liberal Party after a spill motion failed at Parliament this morning.

He is expected to defeat the challenge from former transport minister Dean Nalder, who is accusing him of erratic and illogical leadership during a period of economic turmoil and job insecurity after the mining boom. "I think they've got a lot of opportunity, but I'll go out of my way to make sure that's the case", he said.

"I think it's a clear indication of the strong support for our leader and we will progress now as a united team with everyone falling into place", he said.

"My responsibility as part of the Liberal Party team is to focus on policies that will present us in the best possible light".

Colin Barnett's eight-year tenure as WA premier will be challenged in a spill on Tuesday. "My intention is to contest the election and represent my electorate in the best possible way".

"I allowed everyone to have their point of view.... some made comments about my style of leadership, my office", he said speaking to the press outside parliament house.

Backbencher Murray Cowper had called for the spill, which was seconded by a supporter of Mr Nalder, MP Ian Britza, to topple Mr Barnett.

Announcing the result, Liberal Party secretary Brian Ellis said there had been no discussion prior to the partyroom vote.

"What I would hope to happen is for Mr Barnett to fulfill his promise and step aside graciously, but it's become apparent he's going to go out the door kicking and screaming and that will cause additional injury to the party", he said.

Mr Barnett said he had spoken very little during the meeting and listened to his colleagues.

Mr Barnett's deputy Liza Harvey led the party's remaining ministers as they fronted the media en masse in a show of unity on Monday.

With regard to Western Power, he denied that his position was at odds with Treasurer Mike Nahan who had said it would be a key plank of the government's debt reduction strategy.

Local Government Minister Tony Simpson has resigned from state cabinet sparking a new leadership crisis for Premier Colin Barnett.

'Clearly, this will draw a line in the sand to the small number of disgruntled members of the parliamentary Liberal party, ' he said.

An election is due to held next year, with the government trailing Labor 51 to 49 in the latest opinion poll.

  • Jack Mann