Labor, Nationals behind Libs in SW preselection

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
South West Liberal MLC Steve Thomas at a Collie community meeting last year.
Camera IconSouth West Liberal MLC Steve Thomas at a Collie community meeting last year. Credit: Stuart McGuckinPicture:

Labor and the Nationals are still some weeks away from confirming who will lead the charge for the South West in next year’s State election.

But the Liberal Party has confirmed a changing of the guard for its next election pitch.

Margaret River-based MLC Steve Thomas recently secured top billing for the Upper House.

The endorsement guaranteed the former Capel MLA and ex-Federal MHR Nola Marino staffer would renew his hold on the South West spot.

Second and third-placed candidates were newcomers Greg Stocks and Anita Shortland.

Mr Stocks is the City of Albany’s deputy mayor and has served on council since 2011.

The Times understands Ms Shortland also works for Ms Marino in Bunbury and is chief executive of the South West Refuge.

Liberal Party sources believed they had a chance to snag jobs for all three candidates based on the poor showing of WA’s Labor Government in the South West.

Dr Thomas was the only Liberal MLC at present after One Nation’s Colin Tincknell surprised pollsters by winning one of six vacancies at the 2017 election. Labor’s preselection talks were underscored by internal chatter confirming WA’s Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan would switch seats.

Ms MacTiernan owns a house in Albany and would likely contest the South West Upper House poll. Ms MacTiernan has switched Lower House seats twice, as well as a brief stint as a Federal Parliamentarian. Her preselection was rumoured to come at the cost of long-serving Bunbury-based Labor MLC Adele Farina’s dumping from a winnable ticket.

Labor’s candidates would be confirmed within the next month.

Candidates to contest the safe Liberal seat of Vasse, held by Libby Mettam, and Warren-Blackwood, held by Nats veteran and former leader Terry Redman, would follow Upper House preselections.

National Party director Joe Lundy said their preselections would be finalised “a bit later in the year”.

“We are currently looking for local champions to put their hands up in seats across the State to run for the only party that solely represents regional WA — and Vasse is no different,” he said.

Labor previously failed to field credible candidates in Capes Lower House seats, while City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley was eyed as a candidate for both the Liberals and Nationals in the 2014 by-election won by Libby Mettam after the resignation of Troy Buswell.

A Liberal candidate to take on Mr Redman was not yet confirmed.

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