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Pick a winner at your peril: why you should still engage with all sides in WA

It used to be true that a week was a long time in politics

It used to be true that a week was a long time in politics.

Digital technology and the ever shrinking news cycle has replaced this with 'a tweet is a long time in politics'.

Practitioners should be mindful of this as they approach Party engagement in the countdown to polling day in WA.

Sandgropers head to the polls on the 11th of March following an election campaign that is, at its heart, about 'confidence'.

Voter confidence in who can manage an economy slowly grinding to a snails' pace, as low commodity prices reduce mining royalties to a trickle.

The renewed confidence of a Labor leader who saw off a potentially career ending leadership challenge a year ago, to hit the hustings with a unified Party behind him.

Confidence, (or lack thereof), in the current longest serving Premier in the country, and whether he can lead to victory an informal Liberal National partnership divided by asset sales, plans to increase mining royalties and a reborn One Nation Party. To win Labor needs to secure an additional 10 seats in the Legislative Assembly. Battle lines have primarily been drawn on the issues of jobs, the economy and management of the State Budget.

Labor are pressing the line that the Government has fallen asleep, allowing the State's economy to stall and debt to creep ever upward.

They claim the Government's only solution is to sell off the family farm in the form of the state owned Western Power. This election also has the aroma of a tired, long serving Premier who's been eyeing the exit sign for some time.

Trailing this unfortunate smell through the campaign, Mr Barnett must attempt to recapture the confidence voters used to enjoying a roaring, royalty-fuelled economy.

While commodity prices are starting to restore the fortunes of some mining companies, it may not be soon enough for the Liberals. A possible light in the dark for the Liberals, is their preference deal with a bullish One Nation.

The Libs have secured One Nation's preferences in all Lower House seats, in return for putting Pauline's Party ahead of the Nationals in the Upper House in regional areas.

Pundits expect One Nation to poll extremely well on March 11 and their preference flow could see the Government scrape across the line.

Of course this preference deal isn't sitting well with the Federal Nationals, with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce warning that the appearance of such disunity could relegate the WA Liberals and Nationals to Opposition. Another small boon for the Libs and Nats in WA is Federal Labor's self-immolation on energy policy.

While Prime Minister Turnbull pushes the stability of new coal technology, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is struggling to sell an energy grid 50% reliant on renewables by 2030.

Labor patriarch Graham Richardson declared in The Australian, his Party was headed for an 'electoral massacre' if they continued on this path.

In the face of its Federal counterparts' performance, WA Labor quietly backed away from its renewable energy target of 50% by 2030.

Newspoll currently has Labor leading the Government 54 to 46 on a two party preferred basis and the bookies have Labor at around $1.18 with the Government out to about $4.75.

However as the Trump election proved, pollsters and punters can still get it wrong and with 10 seats needed by Labor, the result is not quite fait accompli.

For government relations practitioners with interests in WA, engaging with both sides of the political divide, and perhaps with One Nation as well, will be important during the final few weeks of the campaign.

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