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Barnett to replace two WA ministers

AAP logoAAP 20/09/2016

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett will this week seek to replace two ministers who dramatically quit cabinet at the weekend, now that an attempt to topple him has been easily defeated.

A spill motion was lost 31 votes to 15 in a ballot of the Liberal government's 46 MPs at a party room meeting on Tuesday.

It is not known how many of those 15 people would have actually backed former transport and agriculture minister Dean Nalder in a leadership vote.

Mr Barnett told reporters after the failed coup he planned to replace Mr Nalder and former local government minister Tony Simpson - who both quit on Saturday - in the next day.

He said he was hoping for minimal change to the cabinet line-up but there might be some reshuffling to firm up his team for the March election.

"I hope that we can resolve that in the next day," he said.

Mr Nalder had accused the premier of no longer listening or consulting with his ministers, and complained he could not get a meeting with Mr Barnett for six months to discuss important policy issues.

But following his failed bid, Mr Nalder ruled out any further contest, saying Mr Barnett had been "elected captain of our team" and had a great record over eight years.

"I have no interest in any further challenge to his leadership ... in any leadership challenge," he said.

Mr Barnett said he had shaken hands with Mr Nalder and Mr Simpson, and would move on.

Other critics of the premier included previously dumped ministers Murray Cowper, who moved the spill motion, and Helen Morton.

The motion was seconded by Mr Nalder's supporter, member for Morley Ian Britza.

Mr Cowper labelled the premier's office toxic, while Ms Morton called it a bullying, out-of-control machine.

Mr Barnett accepted some criticism of his autocratic leadership style - which has earned him the nickname "The Emperor" - but pointed out governing often required decisive action.

"People made it very clear they want to have more opportunity to speak to me. 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.

"There was some criticism of my office and I will talk to my staff and talk to members about that."

Mr Barnett also said it had become clear his government needed to provide more information around the timing of the Roe 8 highway extension, which is the most contentious part of the near $2 billion Perth Freight Link project, and whether it will be connected by a tunnel to Fremantle port.

"That's a big policy issue - I recognise that," he said.

More information was also needed on the proposed sale of electricity poles and wires operator Western Power and other planned privatisations.

"I think the public is looking for us to come clean on that," Mr Barnett said.

"They're not simple issues."

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