Questions loom over North West Central seat future after Vince Catania resignation bombshell
Questions loom over who will vie for the North West Central seat following Vince Catania’s shock resignation last week, with parties weighing-up whether to contest the by-election.
Already down to six MPs in the 59-person Legislative Assembly — where government is formed — his decision has plunged the depleted Liberal-National Alliance into further disarray, with the MP being slammed by Labor for the bombshell call.
The father of five last week revealed with “mixed emotions” that after some “soul searching” he would formally resign from the WA Parliament in August to spend more time with his children and wife Danielle.
It comes after 17 years in State Parliament and 14 years representing some of WA’s most isolated and remote communities in his 860,000sqkm electorate, assisting communities in some of their darkest hours after cyclone Seroja and the devastating Carnarvon floods.
“Anyone who knows me understands I’ve been entirely passionate and committed to my electorate, one of the largest, most diverse and remote electorates in Australia, if not the world, where I clocked up around 140,000km a year on the road and often spent more than half the year away from home,” Mr Catania said.
“After many years of extensive travel and long periods of time away, it’s now time for me to focus on my family.
“They’ve all been incredibly patient and supportive of me as a husband and a father who’s been absent for much of the time. But the kids will all be adults before we know it, so it’s well and truly time for me to put my family first.”
Mr Catania joined the WA Parliament in 2005, representing Labor in the Mining and Pastoral Region of the Legislative Council. In 2008 he switched from the Upper House to the Lower House, successfully standing for Labor.
But in a shock move a year later he joined the WA Nationals, saying he wanted to help the then Liberal-National Government roll out the $1 billion a year Royalties for Regions program across WA.
The move left a bitter taste in the Labor Party’s mouth, with Premier Mark McGowan and Education Minister Sue Ellery not mincing their words upon news of his resignation.
“He was a Labor member and then he decided without any consultation to betray the party that put him into Parliament,” Mr McGowan said.
“He upset me, he upset a lot of people.”
Mrs Ellery said Mr Catania had broken his promise to those he said he would represent for the next four years when he ran for the seat in March.
“I’d say two things: don’t slam the door on your way out. And the second thing I’d say is he has form of leaving parties when it’s the worst time to leave those parties. It’s the second time he’s done this,” she said.
Despite the ALP’s success in WA at last month’s Federal election, Labor sources said the party was weighing-up whether to contest the by-election.
The WA Liberal Party is also in talks about whether it runs a candidate.
There’s also a belief the seat, which has just 8000 voters, will be abolished by the WA Electoral Commission ahead of the next poll.
Nationals WA State president Tony Crook said they would put forward the “very best candidate” to take on the role next.
“When he leaves his role as member for North West Central, we commit to the North West that we will put forward the very best candidate who can hold the McGowan Labor Government to account at a time when regional representation is under serious threat,” he said.
His time in the role has put him on the ground with communities facing unprecedented natural disasters and “calling for help in Parliament on behalf of desperate people whose lives have been turned upside down”.
Nationals WA leader Mia Davies said Mr Catania had been a fierce advocate and showed an unerring commitment to his constituents during his time as member for North West Central.
“From flood recovery in Gascoyne Junction to helping Kalbarri locals rebuild following tropical cyclone Seroja, iconic community infrastructure in Exmouth to advocating for mums-to-be to access local midwives in Carnarvon, he approached every issue with enthusiasm and dedication to getting a better outcome for these communities.
“On behalf of the Nationals WA Parliamentary team, I wish Vince, his wife Danielle and their family the very best as they embark on a new chapter.”
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