You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

WA premier declares leadership crisis over

AAP logoAAP 19/09/2016 Rebecca Le May

WA Premier Colin Barnett has given his government a 50 per cent chance of winning next year's state election following a failed leadership challenge and says he accepts some criticism of his autocratic leadership style.

A spill motion on Tuesday was comfortably defeated 31 votes to 15 at a party room meeting.

The 66-year-old never faced a vote against Dean Nalder, who resigned as a minister along with Tony Simpson on Saturday and was planning a challenge that was widely considered doomed to fail.

Mr Barnett emerged from the meeting with his team behind him - including Mr Nalder and Mr Simpson - saying he was pleased the matter had been clearly resolved.

He said he suspected some of the MPs who wanted the spill would have ended up voting for him anyway if it had gone ahead.

"I think it was a strong, convincing win," he said.

"Everyone has agreed to stand behind the leadership as we go into that election campaign.

"We have to now show to the community that we're united and we are."

Mr Barnett said the party had an open and frank airing of grievances, allowing members to get concerns off their chest, including some contentious planned privatisations.

"I'm not saying they were resolved but we are resolved to work together in a unified way to try to win the next election," he said.

He said he shook hands with Mr Simpson and Mr Nalder, who told reporters he no longer had an interest in any leadership challenge but intended to contest the 2017 election as a backbencher.

"Everyone has got to lick their wounds now and get on with it," the premier said.

Mr Barnett said he accepted some of the criticism levelled at him, but politics was fast-moving and high-pressure, requiring decisiveness.

"Sometimes people might find that a little abrupt," he conceded.

"Because I like to get on with the job and deal with issues quickly, maybe people think I don't listen enough and I accept that.

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

"I'll go out of my way to make sure that's the case."

Mr Barnett also said he would talk with his staff about accusations by previously dumped ministers Helen Morton and Murray Cowper that his office was a toxic, bullying, out-of-control machine.

After a string of opinion polls showing Labor in a winning position, Mr Barnett said he was buoyed by the latest 51-49 poll figures, which showed the March result was "up for grabs".

"It's probably a 50:50 bet going into the election - there's still six months to go," he said.

Notre Dame University senior politics lecturer Martin Drum said the leadership tensions had been put to bed for now but may re-emerge if the Liberals poll poorly again.

"It certainly hurts the premier's chances of getting re-elected - there's no doubt about it," Mr Drum told AAP.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said it would be difficult to govern with one-third of Liberal MPs clearly disgruntled.

"The only way to get a change and get rid of this poison and dysfunction is to change the government," Mr McGowan said.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon