West Australian Liberal leader Zak Kirkup has been targeted in a “spendometer” campaign video after failing to explain how the party would fund a plan to revitalise Perth’s CBD.
The rookie leader’s shaky lead-up to the March election continued on Monday with a plan to create a “New City West”, sinking the railway between Mitchell Freeway and Thomas Street to free up land for commercial and residential use.
Pressed by reporters, Mr Kirkup was unable to say how much it would cost but claimed there was “every prospect” it would be cost-neutral.
He promised $5 million to undertake detailed master planning and said he believed it could be achieved through a public private partnership.
Planning Minister Rita Saffioti said the McGowan government estimated it would cost somewhere between $600 million and $1 billion to sink the railway, as well as potentially hundreds of millions of dollars to relocate services.
At best, the sale of the two hectares of land would net about $60 million, she said.
“An incredible performance by the Liberal Party,” Ms Saffioti, who is also Labor’s campaign spokesperson, told reporters.
“To stand there and say that this would be cost-neutral is deceitful and misleading.”
Labor on Monday released a new “spendometer” campaign video on social media, claiming the Liberal and National parties had racked up $8.1 billion worth of combined spending promises.
The government has campaigned strongly on its success in driving down net debt which had spiralled under the previous Liberal administration.
Labor has promised to make weekly submissions to treasury once the independent costing of campaign promises begins next month.
“It’s important that the Liberal and National parties take up the opportunity to use the WA Treasury,” Treasurer Ben Wyatt said.
“Whilst they are together in government, they are campaigning quite separately and spending the same dollar twice.”
Facing a herculean task to lead his already-depleted party to victory at the polls, Mr Kirkup has struggled to land a blow on the highly popular premier.
The 33-year-old first-term MP remains in a battle to save his own marginal seat of Dawesville.
Seven News reported Mr Kirkup had been criticised by former Liberal MP and branch president Murray Cowper for his “manic” campaign, which Mr Cowper predicted would leave the party facing further electoral obliteration.
“I’m very comfortable with where we’re going in our campaign,” Mr Kirkup said.