Ironbar shows no sign of rusting

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

Outspoken former WA Federal Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey celebrated turning 80 with family, friends and former staff and party colleagues at his Ascot home last weekend.

Known for his confrontational style towards adversaries, the former Howard Government Cabinet minister and 30-year Member for O'Connor lost his seat to Nationals WA candidate Tony Crook at the 2010 Federal election.

In agricultural politics, he is remembered as the most outspoken critic of the Australian Wheat Board in Federal Parliament and led the push for it to be stripped of its export monopoly for wheat.

More recently, Mr Tuckey came out of retirement to stand beside WA's peak farming lobby groups to oppose moves by the Abbott Government to return to wheat export regulation.

Speaking with _Countryman _at the celebration, Mr Tuckey said as a businessman and politician he felt his biggest contribution was his ability to "build things".

"My passion for politics and working on behalf of people in the bush started when I was first in local government and through lots of hard work built the Country Shire Councils' Association (now the WA Local Government Association)," he said.

"My background in local politics also gave me the support I required to run for the seat of O'Connor."

Mr Tuckey said he believed his long-term political success was because of his willingness to say exactly what he thought.

"I never cared about the polls," he said. "It was always about telling people how it was and doing the best for the people I was elected to represent.

"Today both State and Federal parliaments are full of people that never served in the local community or in rural areas and never drank a beer with local people serving them as customers.

"In regards to my opposition of wheat regulation, I had to go and tell the people of WA that they were being robbed by the Eastern States and it was only the farmers and the politicians in the Eastern States that wanted a return to a single desk."

Mr Tuckey said today he remained a keen observer of local politics and a strong supporter of the WA Government's asset sell-off program to pay down its $30 billion State debt.

He said the sale of the State's ports was a good example of the Government's opportunity to increase asset efficiency.

"Efficient ports are a vital part of building our exports, so they should sell off the ports, as long as they don't sell them as a monopoly," Mr Wilson said.

"For example, I fought for years to get Buckeridge Group Limited off the ground at Coogee Beach, which would have provided competition.

"The cost of running a port outside of the stevedores is huge and it would also help to get State's live exports out of Fremantle."

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