Colin Barnett is pretty much a dead cert to retain his job as Premier of Western Australia on March 9. He's been at the helm of a booming state for a while now and he's been a competent and confident leader. Of course state issues are different to federal ones but they do influence each other. And the Libs are certainly capitalizing on the dysfunction in Canberra. I've seen at least one ad that reminds West Aussies about what a mess the current Australian Government is in. This will be highly effective, I believe.

And just as Barnett is using Gillard's ship of fools to bash Mark McGowan, state Labor are keeping their distance from their federal counterparts. That's sooo telling!

I actually feel some sympathy for them. It's not a fair contest. McGowan seems like a decent and competent bloke yet he's got this huge albatross round his neck called Julia Gillard. He and his team could certainly do a reasonable job if elected. They are not anything like the venal, dodgy mob that wrecked New South Wales, after all.

And who is he using to make Barnett look bad by association? Troy Buswell. WA labor haven't gotten stuck into him with a nasty smear campaign like their federal counterparts have done to Abbott. But they've certainly tried to get some mileage out of him.

Frankly, I don't think this is an effective tactic at all. Buswell obviously has some issues and he's a bit of a boofhead in some ways, but he has discharged his duties competently. His ongoing conflict with his ex Adele Carles would have made many people -- probably mostly women -- lose respect for him (much as his chair-sniffing, etc, did in the past). But I don't think this would be a huge problem. Australians -- unlike voters in America -- generally aren't that fussed about pollies' personal lives. And Buswell's image as a knockabout larrikin may have even made some blokes warm to him.

Also, like Barnett he obviously loves this state and wants the best for it. They're like mini-patriots (stateriots?). And these sentiments are shared by a significant proportion of their fellow sandgropers. West Aussies have long believed themselves to be different and separate from the rest of the population in many ways. And they deeply resent the fact that the Federal Government has been riding on the back of their state's economic success while showing it little respect. Not surprisingly, Barnett has been capitalizing on this cultural aspect as well, with an ad stating that he, unlike McGowan, has the courage to "stand up to Canberra".