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Barnett welcomes good poll for WA govt

AAP logoAAP 3/11/2016 Greg Roberts

A buoyant WA Premier Colin Barnett says the second opinion poll in seven weeks to show his government only narrowly trailing the Labor opposition after looking headed for electoral defeat has him "quietly confident".

He also says he's not worried about a drop in his approval rating from 31 per cent to a lowly 28 per cent after a leadership challenge and tensions over repeated bad polls in the lead-up to the March 11 election.

A Newspoll of 855 people published on Thursday showed Labor with a two-party preferred lead of 52 per cent compared to the Liberal-National alliance's 48 per cent.

A ReachTEL poll published in mid-September of 1720 people had it even closer, 51-49 to Labor, but a primary vote indicating a Liberal National win.

Polls conducted early this year and late last year had Labor under leader Mark McGowan winning easily - a March Newspoll of 1248 voters had the opposition ahead 56-44.

"I think we're a good government, this is one example of it," said Mr Barnett, referring to the $2 billion Forrestfield Airport Link project where he spoke at a "sod turning" event to start work extending the rail line to link it with Perth's CBD.

By 2020 Perth will join Sydney and Brisbane as Australian cities with CBD-linked main airports.

"As the election gets closer I expect to see the vote narrow, that's happening ... I am quietly confident the government will be returned ...", Mr Barnett told reporters.

"People can now see hopefully that this government is making decisions, projects that we decided on years ago are now coming to fruition: Elizabeth Quay, the Perth stadium, this rail link through to the airport, regional roads, all of the expenditure on hospitals, education.

"I don't get any sense of being unpopular in the community."

Much of Mr McGowan's pitch to voters has highlighted the fact the WA Treasury's public debt and deficit are at record levels.

CommSec dubbed WA the nation's worst performing economy in the September quarter.

The BankWest Curtin Economics Centre report this month painted a bleak picture with WA's full time employment falling 20 consecutive months, the wealth gap, mortgage failures and bankruptcies all up and house prices down.

Mr Barnett disagrees, saying those reports compared WA negatively to the mining boom years, but he believed it's economy was still the nation's strongest: average wages were higher and annual productivity per person, or gross state product, of more than $100,000 compared to $65,000 nationally.

"Anyone who suggests WA has got a struggling economy needs to have a closer look," he said.

Mr McGowan said the close poll indicated the Liberals might need the support of Nationals leader Brendon Grylls, who wants to introduce a new mining tax and that would cost people's jobs.

"Western Australia needs a fresh start and new direction from the Barnett years," he said.

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