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WA transport minister holds onto job

AAP logoAAP 25/08/2016 Greg Roberts

WA Transport Minister Dean Nalder has kept his job after a tense meeting with an angry Premier Colin Barnett to discuss why he had been passing around a privately funded poll showing the government would lose the election.

Considered a leadership aspirant, Mr Nalder was handed the poll by businessman John Poynton and showed it to other MPs but not Mr Barnett.

He says he thought someone else would hand it to the premier.

He has refused to criticise the poll despite colleagues slamming business interests for trying to influence the leadership of the government.

Treasurer Mike Nahan has described the affair as a throwback to the 1980s Wa Inc scandals under Labor.

Mr Nalder emerged from a one hour-plus meeting with Mr Barnett, saying he fully supported him and blamed media reports for forcing it.

"We've talked things through, he understands where I'm coming from," Mr Nalder told reporters.

"I regret that public commentary has forced us into a position where we've had to have such a meeting."

He refused to reveal what was talked about.

Mr Barnett's decision to let Mr Nalder keep his job comes 24 hours after he had warned him that he saw the poll as "an act of disloyalty" to the government and it would be a serious issue if Mr Nalder was involved.

Mr Barnett has asked Department of Premier and Cabinet head Peter Conran to look at the poll and what connection those involved had to the government and refer it to watchdog Public Sector Commisioner Mal Wauchope.

Government MPs who have spoken publicly such as Deputy Premier Liza Harvey, Treasurer Mike Nahan and Health Minister John Day have been almost unanimous in criticising the poll and urging Mr Nalder to show loyalty.

The Reachtel poll of more than 10,700 people across 11 marginal Liberal held Perth seats was damaging for the government, indicating Labor winning the 10 seats it needs for government.

However it has also raised concerns among West Australians, many who called in to radio stations to complain about business interests interfering in the processes of government.

Others identified as being involved so far are Nigel Satterley, Greg Poland and Vikas Rambal.

Mr Poynton defended the poll, saying the results indicated people were worried about WA's direction under Mr Barnett.

However all of those businessmen, as well as being Liberal Party donors, have lost financially from government policies such as lifting land taxes.

The poll has been described as designed to get a result with leading questions such as whether Mr Barnett "looked arrogant or tired", without proposing a replacement.

Notre Dame University senior politics lecturer Martin Drum said he could not recall a similar situation in Australia of businesspeople so transparently using an opinion poll and the media to influence public debate.

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