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Barnett criticises MacTiernan's return

AAP logoAAP 23/08/2016

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett joked six months ago he missed former federal MP Alannah MacTiernan, but with the Labor stalwart set to return to state politics, he has joined the list of Liberals criticising her.

The outspoken 63-year-old veteran politician was backed by opposition leader Mark McGowan last week to fill the upper house spot left vacant by the retirement of Ken Travers.

When it was announced she would not re-contest the federal seat of Perth, the premier acknowledged Ms MacTiernan had previously been an effective state minister and joked about their "tiffs", but on Tuesday, Mr Barnett took a swipe at her.

"She had a very short, and I've got to say unsuccessful, career in federal politics," he told reporters.

Asked if she would be a formidable opponent in the March state election, Mr Barnett said there was no doubt she had a "strong personality".

Ms MacTiernan was the WA minister for planning and infrastructure from 2001-2008, and oversaw the construction of projects such as the Perth to Mandurah railway line.

Labor's health spokesman Roger Cook said Ms MacTiernan was popular and there was enthusiasm for her return to the ranks.

"Her record stands for itself. She's a great politician, she's a great West Australian and she will continue to make a huge contribution in WA public life."

Mr Barnett's comments come after Police minister Liza Harvey and Corrective Services minister Joe Francis also criticised Ms MacTiernan's return last week.

Upper house whip Phil Edman also said it was a shame Labor was not bringing in a young candidate with fresh ideas, describing Ms MacTiernan as a "dinosaur" despite being younger than the premier.

Ms MacTiernan later joked on Twitter: "It's official: A-Mac is no more, you can call me A-Rex (Alannah-saurus Rex). Big, powerful, but definitely not extinct."

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