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Reform vital for WA Liberals: state leader

A proposed overhaul of preselections within the West Australian Liberals is crucial to reversing the party’s low standing, its state leader says.

David Honey on Thursday met with Peter Dutton after the federal opposition leader brought his shadow cabinet to Perth.

The Liberals suffered a 10 per cent swing in WA at the federal election, losing five seats as Labor claimed majority government.

It continues a miserable period for the WA Liberals, who were last year reduced to just two MPs in the state lower house amid internal turmoil over alleged branch-stacking and the controlling of preselections by factions.

A proposal for MPs to be preselected through plebiscites of party members in each electorate will be debated next month at the Liberals’ state conference.

“I am confident that we will get good consensus around the plebiscite, in particular, for preselections at that meeting,” Dr Honey told reporters on Thursday.

“And that’s going to be critical for demonstrating to the public that we have our affairs in order.”

A damning review last year found the WA Liberal party had become a political “wasteland”, in part because of the corrosive influence of factions.

The report warned the party’s financial viability was at risk because of an exodus of corporate funding.

A recent audit of membership records meanwhile identified multiple party memberships being paid for using a single credit card.

Dr Honey said the party’s procedures had since been changed to ensure that was no longer possible.

Former WA Liberal Premier Colin Barnett recently described his party as being in a desperate situation, tipping Labor to retain power at a state and federal level for the next decade.

Mr Dutton admitted during his visit to Perth that the Liberals needed to rebuild a significant amount of trust with West Australians.

“He’s got a big focus on WA, that was apparent from the meeting this morning. He sees it as such as an important state,” Dr Honey said.

“We’re going to be facing two elections in 2025 and we discussed how we would work together to make sure we maximise the effectiveness of the state campaign and the federal campaign.”

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