Nationals MPshrugs offLiberals’ deal

Rueben HaleCountryman
Carnamah farmer Cameron Levett will stick with the Nationals.
Camera IconCarnamah farmer Cameron Levett will stick with the Nationals. Credit: Countryman

Geraldton Nationals candidate and current Member for the Agriculture Region Paul Brown has shrugged off concern over the Liberal preference deal struck with One Nation.

Mr Brown, tipped by many commentators to be the first to be distributing his preferences in a tight four-way contest for the Mid West Lower House seat between Labor, Liberal, Nationals and the emerging One Nation, said he was confident people would vote for Nationals based on their record in government.

The fragile alliance between Colin Barnett and Brendon Grylls was at breaking point last week after the Liberals struck the deal with One Nation, which potentially delivers Pauline Hanson the balance of power in the WA Parliament.

Under the plan, the Liberals would preference One Nation above the Nationals in the Upper House country regions, and in return, demand One Nation preference the Liberals above Labor in all Lower House seats they were contesting.

The Liberals will preference the Nationals first in every Lower House seat where they are running, but have promised One Nation they will not be placed last on their ballot papers.

The Nationals have allocated preferences in the first instance to the Liberal Party and then the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party in the Legislative Council. Remaining preferences will be distributed primarily among a host of minor parties, most notably the Australian Christians and Liberal Democrats.

“Since its inception, Royalties for Regions has supported more than 3600 projects across the State and invested more than $7 billion back into regional WA communities to boost regional health, education, tourism, infrastructure, emergency services, mobile phone coverage, agriculture, Aboriginal initiatives, sporting facilities and much more,” Mr Brown said.

“I would hope that One Nation voters will reject the call for them to preference the Liberals and recognise the outstanding job that the Nationals have done to revitalise Regional WA since we introduced the Royalties for Regions program.

“As our leader Brendon Grylls said, people will reject what will be seen to be a desperate deal between Colin Barnett and One Nation, which will, in fact, work to grow our primary vote.

“Personally, I would like to see the whole How to Vote Card and Polling Day circus stopped by changes to the Electoral Act to exclude political advertising from within 300m to 400m of polling booths.

“Most people don’t take the voting cards as they have already formed their opinion on how they will vote well ahead of time, while many of the others quite obviously dislike the whole experience of voting mostly due to the harassment they sometimes receive.

“This would also make preference deals irrelevant.”

Carnamah farmer Cameron Levett said he would be ignoring preference deals and voting National.

“I support what the Nationals have done for people in the bush during this term of the government and without them we would not have a focus on the challenges faced by people living in regional areas,” he said.

“Furthermore, I believe that Brendon Grylls is doing the right thing by asking Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton to contribute to our economy by paying a $5 per tonne tax, because it is good enough for us grain growers to pay levies on each tonne we grow.”

Meanwhile, the Nationals have preferenced the Greens ahead of their Liberal alliance partners on the ticket for two Upper House regions in next month’s State election.

The Liberal Party’s newly installed Agricultural Minister Mark Lewis has been listed behind Greens legislative councillor Robin Chapple in the Mining and Pastoral region.

In the South West region, the Nationals have preferenced Greens candidate Diane Evers above Liberals Wade De Campo, Robyn McSweeney, Tony Norment and Heather Reid, but Liberal Steve Thomas has been placed behind the four Nationals candidates.

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