When is an election campaign not an election campaign?

When Western Australia's Premier Colin Barnett says so.

Despite the state's Labor opposition making more than $2 billion in rail promises, planning a new circular freeway, pledging to recruit 500 more police officers, and finding more than $100 million to save lives on WA's country roads - all in the past two weeks - Mr Barnett claims he's not yet in the fray.

After a fortnight of play fighting, the real stuff will begin on Wednesday, when the country's longest serving Liberal premier issues writs that will ring the bell on WA's first fixed-term election on March 9.

The polls say Mr Barnett is Black Caviar to opposition leader Mark McGowan's Black Beauty - with the Liberal Party at odds of $1.10 to win, compared to Labor's $4.85 with the bookmakers.

But the pure numbers say that if maverick Green turned independent MP Adele Carles loses her seat in Fremantle to Labor as expected, then they only need to gain two more lower house seats to form a government.

So while Mr Barnett might have feigned having his fingers in his ears since Australia Day, he would undoubtedly have noted every ambitious promise made by Labor, topped by the multi-billion dollar Metronet rail scheme.

It was clear from way out the main issue in the state that drives the nation's economy is how easily its residents will be able to drive in coming years.

Increasing road congestion coupled with rising fuel bills, the prospect of more CBD roadworks to come and packed train carriages have all helped put transport at the top of Perth's to-do list.

And so Labor has called on voters to climb aboard the Metronet express, which promises to ease congestion on the roads by connecting the suburbs through new rail lines and stations.

Its $3.8 billion price tag was immediately questioned by state transport minister Troy Buswell, who went as far as getting his own costing of $6.4 billion - sparking the first real row of the campaign about who did his figures, and why.

Searching for the campaign's iconic image, Labor has gone as far as having baby clothes made - bearing the colourful London Underground-style map it hopes will shift voters as well as commuters.

And with five major Metronet elements already revealed, Labor could claim the early momentum in a campaign where only one side has been in election mode.

Not that it's stopped Premier Barnett or his ministers getting around the state with a few big cheques.

A promised $70 million will upgrade Perth's beaches, with other pledges including free public transport for carers, $300,000 for the safety of rock fishermen in Albany - which has a majority of 0.2 per cent - and $36 million for LED speed signs in all school zones.

But with the Labor slogan of a campaign about priorities ringing in their ears, the Liberals have kept their priority policies well hidden.

Transport is shaping to be one, education another, and law and order a third.

The Liberal's governmental ally, the Nationals, have been quiet, perhaps because state leader Brendon Grylls faces a political prize-fight in the Pilbara after choosing to move from his safe Central Wheatbelt seat.

Mr Grylls will also not be a part of the televised debate due to take place between the two party leaders on February 19 - the only head-to-head contest Mr Barnett has agreed to take part in throughout the campaign.

Mr McGowan, however, is scheduled to appear in two more in the following fortnight, but with his opponent yet to be announced, he may be left debating himself.

Whether anyone has been listening will be revealed on March 9.

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