Jackie Jarvis set to join the Upper House

Headshot of Cally Dupe
Cally DupeCountryman
Email Cally Dupe
WA Labor's new Upper House MLC Jackie Jarvis
Camera IconWA Labor's new Upper House MLC Jackie Jarvis Credit: Simon Santi

Margaret River vineyard owner and former Rural Regional and Remote Women’s Network chief executive Jackie Jarvis has won a seat in the Upper House for WA Labor after a massive shake-up of the South West Region.

Mrs Jarvis — who spent nine months working as Alannah MacTiernan’s policy adviser during her first term as WA Agriculture Minister — rode a wave of red success to secure a seat after being ranked third on WA Labor’s South West Region ticket.

Mrs Jarvis was one of several candidates vying for a South West Region Upper House seat and will join her fellow WA Labor MLCs Ms MacTiernan and Sally Talbot.

Mrs Jarvis had been working full time for Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development since August 2019 and since last March has played a key role in the McGowan Government’s response to critical worker shortages in the agricultural sector brought on by COVID-19.

She took annual leave from her role in February and resigned last month after it became obvious she had been successful in becoming a member of Parliament.

Mrs Jarvis said she had been a member of the WA Labor Party for 15 years after first joining as a “young mum” and finding herself appointed a branch president just weeks later.

Camera IconCredit: Simon Santi The West Australian

She ran as a Labor candidate in the unwinnable safe Liberal seat Forrest in the 2010 Federal Election — losing out to incumbent Nola Marino — and said she was inspired to put herself forward for a State position after years at the “periphery of politics”.

“I understand how public policy can impact the lives of people,” Mrs Jarvis said.

“But I am also a small business owner, my husband and I are farmers, we worked in the not-for-profit sector. So I hope that I have a really strong set of skills that can translate.”

Growing up in what Ms Jarvis described as a “working class family” — her father an unskilled building labourer and her mother a cleaner — she said she was attracted to the Labor Party for its “fairness” and committent to gender equality.

“That sense of fairness and making sure that we’ll bring everyone along as part of the journey,” Ms Jarvis said.

“I went to my first meeting around 2005 and I had three young kids. I was a bit nervous. Their quota system and affirmative action system saw me made president of the local branch within a few weeks.

“That was my first leadership position and I have gone on to have a number of leadership positions professionally and personally.”

Mrs Jarvis said working as Ms MacTiernan’s policy adviser for nine months after the 2017 State Election gave her an insight into the inner workings of the WA Agriculture Minister.

“Her (Alannah’s) ability to take in really detailed, really technical data really blew me away. She is a massive intellect and able to remember facts, figures and information and understand issues,” Ms Jarvis said.

“She is really passionate about science, which is really important for an agriculture minister. I think she has been a really strong advocate for the regions and agriculture.” Ms Jarvis said she believed any suggestion that Labor was “not connected to agriculture” was “not true”.

“I think the idea that traditionally Labor doesn’t understand farming, I think it is a relatively new thing,” she said.

“I hear people who talk about what a great agriculture minister Kim Chance was, back in the day.”

I think the idea that traditionally that Labor doesn’t understand farming, I think it is a relatively new thing.

Jackie Jarvis

With counting concluded in the regional areas, the WA Labor trio in the South West region has been joined by incumbent MLC Steve Thomas and newcomers WA Nationals candidate James Hayward and Legalise Cannabis WA candidate Sophia Moermond.

Labor increased its stronghold from two seats to three in the region, with the Liberals and Nationals retaining one seat each and Legalise Cannabis WA picking up one.

The balance of power in the South West was originally two Labor and one representative from the Greens, Nationals, One Nation and the Liberals.

Mr Hayward — the former WA Nationals state president — takes over from Nationals predecessor Colin Holt, who retired.

Shooters, Fishers, Farmers MLC Rick Mazza was unsuccessful in his bid to win a seat after choosing to contest the South West region for the first time rather than in the Agricultural Region, where he had held a seat for two terms.

He secured 664 more votes than Legalise Cannabis WA but lost the seat on preferences.

Meanwhile, The Greens incumbent Diane Evers lost her seat.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails