Party toasts long history

The West Australian
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While his Federal leader was on the campaign trail, WA National's parliamentary leader Brendon Grylls appeared more comfortable taking a walk down memory lane.

During his address to the WA National Party Centenary conference, Mr Grylls said the Nationals had a long history founded in WA's Wheatbelt.

He said the party had originally been formed in March 1912 as the Farmers and Settlers Association, and, by 1913, had established 91 branches across the State.

In 1913, the group met in Perth to decide whether or not to enter politics. "The vote in favour of establishing a political party (the Country Party) was 88 to 15," Mr Grylls said.

He said the history of the Nationals in WA was being written by historian Dr Lenore Layman, and her book would be launched at the 2014 Nationals State Conference.

During his keynote address, Mr Grylls acknowledged the contribution of numerous retiring politicians, in particular Federal member for O'Connor Tony Crook.

"Tony won the unwinnable election from Wilson Tuckey in 2010. Tony went to Canberra with a different view and he put pressure on WA's other political representatives in the federal parliament," Mr Grylls said.

"Tony, you are the one who stood up and changed the way WA does politics."

He also acknowledged the contribution of retiring State MP Grant Woodhams, and independent member John Bowler.

Mr Grylls said former members Max Trenorden and Phil Gairdner had been two great servants of the National Party.

"While it (their careers) didn't finish how we would have liked, they deserve to have their place in National Party history," he said.

Mr Grylls highlighted the work of Colin de Grussa, who stood against sitting Liberal Member Graham Jacobs for the seat of Eyre in the last State election.

"We are excited about his ongoing role in our party and we now have three-and-a-half years to find those 125 votes," he said.

The three National Party candidates for the coming Federal election, Shane van Styn, Chub Witham and David Wirrpanda were presented to the conference.

"If I told you three years ago that we were poised to have three representatives in the Federal Parliament, nobody would have taken me seriously," Mr Grylls said.

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