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Liberal incumbent Rick Wilson set to retain O’Connor, says low primary vote should worry both major parties

Liberal incumbent for O’Connor Rick Wilson is set to retain his seat despite a massive swing towards Labor across WA, but he says the election result should worry both major parties.

Mr Wilson had 56.2 per cent of the two-party preferred vote with 44.5 per cent of votes counted by 11pm as he sought to win a fourth term as the member for an electorate which spans more than 1.1 million sqkm.

His primary vote was 44.8 per cent, ahead of Labor candidate Shaneane Weldon on 27.3 per cent and Greens WA stalwart Giz Watson on 9.4 per cent.

All three of those candidates enjoyed positive swings — a trend which can be partly attributed to the Nationals WA failing to field a candidate.

One Nation’s primary vote dropped by 0.9 per cent in O’Connor to 7.65 per cent.

Addressing his team at his Albany electorate office on Saturday night, Mr Wilson said the Liberal party was at risk of losing some star MPs.

Rick Wilson casts his vote for the seat of O'Connor at Mt Lockyer Primary School.
Camera IconRick Wilson casts his vote for the seat of O’Connor at Mt Lockyer Primary School. Credit: Laurie Benson

“Hopefully, at least in WA, we can hang on to a reasonable number of seats because WA has been the jewel in the crown of the Federal liberal party and it looks like that may be coming to an end,” he said.

“I’ve got many, many good friends whose seats are in jeopardy and it’s a bit difficult for me at the moment.”

Mr Wilson singled out “superstar” Dave Sharma and Josh Frydenberg — “the most well-liked person in the Australian Parliament” — as two Liberal MPs who would be a huge loss to the party.

“No one’s irreplaceable and we’ll rebuild from this but we’ve lost some great people,” he said.

With Labor on track to gain at least four seats in WA, he said the popularity of Mark McGowan and WA Labor had worked against the Morrison Government.

“There’s no question that there was a feeling that Scott Morrison and the Federal Government were not treating WA fairly or respecting WA is probably more to the point — the decisions that Mark McGowan was making in terms of border closures and so on,” he said.

Voters queue at the Katanning Town Hall polling place.
Camera IconVoters queue at the Katanning Town Hall polling place. Credit: Sean Van Der Wielen/Great Southern Herald

“I think there’s a fair component of that.”

Mr Wilson said that even if Labor was able to form a majority government, their primary vote — which had risen to 32.5 per cent by 11pm — did not put them in a strong position.

“What is remarkable and what I think is kind of a watershed moment in Australian politics is that the ALP have been elected with 30 per cent of the primary vote,” he said.

“Our primary vote when I looked earlier on was 35 per cent and Labor’s was 30 per cent … I think the choice as the voters saw it was just who’s the worst of a bad bunch.”

The low primary votes should send a message to both major parties that they needed to present a bold vision to the voters, Mr Wilson said.

“If you don’t stand for something, then why are people going to stick by you?” he said.

“If you don’t give them something to proud of, something to identify with — I think that’s part of the problem with both parties.”

You can view the latest O’Connor election results here.

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