Grylls quits to put family first

Gareth Parker State Political EditorThe West Australian

Brendon Grylls hopes to attend more of his three sons' school assemblies after he steps down as leader of the Nationals and Minister for Regional Development and Lands in the coming weeks.

Mr Grylls said family considerations played a part in his surprise decision to stand down just eight months after the State election.

He also found it difficult to represent his Pilbara electorate while living in Perth and had a desire to develop succession planning within the party.

"I'm not complaining, but having your diary compartmentalised in half-hour logs for 12 months in advance and missing important events because of that, that's tricky and difficult," Mr Grylls said yesterday at a press conference in which he was flanked by his parliamentary colleagues.

"And it is probably more difficult for someone with a young family.

"On Friday I didn't go to a certificate presentation for my son. I could have changed it, but I needed to ask 100 people with disabilities who had all ordered taxis to come to an event in the South West to change their bookings.

"So I saw the honour certificate at 6 o'clock.

"That's not the reason I'm standing down, but you can see - and the next person will have this as well . . . I would hope I get to a few more assemblies."

Mr Grylls, 40, who lives in Nedlands, intends to shift his family to Karratha.

He said he was "damned proud" of his achievements as Nationals leader - primarily for the legislation of his Royalties for Regions policy that he believed was regarded as "a bit of a sideshow" when he announced it.

Mr Grylls said the policy, which sets aside 25 per cent of forecast mining royalties each year into the R4R fund, had been "life-changing" for regional West Australians.

"It is now in the statutes, delivering a regional development program of more than $1 billion a year every year into the future," he said.

"We have built the foundations of a sustainable regional WA into the future and I'm damned proud of that."

Revealing he had been thinking about stepping down for several months, Mr Grylls denied misleading Pilbara voters despite campaigning on the message that "sitting at the Cabinet table" was the only effective way to represent the electorate.

He said the time was right to move on now because since the election he had "bedded down" Budget commitments to education, health and streetscape upgrades worth more than $1 billion over the next four years.

Mr Grylls, who took the leadership from Max Trenorden in 2005, said he had been given three years to establish himself and a policy direction in the lead-up to the 2008 election and was rewarded with the balance of power in both Houses.

He wanted his successor to have the same opportunity.

Though he stopped short of nominating who the next leader should be, he repeated his praise for Nationals deputy leader Terry Redman's "outstanding qualities".

Mr Grylls said he intended to serve a full term as the MLA for Pilbara but would not guarantee it and would give no commitment beyond the 2017 election.

Premier Colin Barnett said he was disappointed to lose an "effective, enthusiastic and loyal" member of Cabinet but left the door open to Mr Grylls rejoining the ministry.

"I don't know if Brendon agrees with me, but I've said to him, 'Treat this as a gap year, have a bit of time out'.

"I understand and respect that and I hope he comes back to Cabinet in the future."

We have built the foundations of a sustainable regional WA into the future." Brendon Grylls

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