Nationals determined to win back Warren-Blackwood from Labor first term MP Jane Kelsbie

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
The Nationals and the Liberals are poised to take on Warren-Blackwood MLA Jane Kelsbie.
Camera IconThe Nationals and the Liberals are poised to take on Warren-Blackwood MLA Jane Kelsbie. Credit: Kelsey Reid/The West Australian

The Nationals WA’s State president has confirmed the party is preparing for a push to reclaim the prized one-time stronghold of Warren-Blackwood.

The Nationals-held seat was snatched by Labor tyro Jane Kelsbie as part of the last State election landslide swing during the pandemic — a feat political pundits doubt will be repeated again without popular Premier Mark McGowan at the helm.

The upset turfed Nationals veteran and former leader Terry Redman out of politics, meaning the Nationals would seek a fresh face at the next election, scheduled for March 8 next year.

Nationals State director Douglas Rodgers told the Times the party was committed to winning back its traditional seat.

The party was so serious about the push it would hold its State conference at the Margaret River Heart on March 24.

Although there were candidates already in mind, Mr Rodgers declined to identify any potentials while they underwent internal processes.

It was also likely that conference would see a candidate chosen to take on Opposition partner Libby Mettam in Vasse.

The two Capes seats were subject to redrawn boundaries last year that shifted Warren-Blackwood further north, encompassing Gracetown and Cowaramup, while Vasse would now take in Capel.

Warren-Blackwood incumbent Ms Kelsbie told the Times she was aiming to recontest the seat, though she declined to comment on Labor’s internal processes.

“I will continue to be a strong local voice who champions the needs of our regional communities in the Cook Labor Government,” she said.

“I’m getting on with the job, and as part of the Cook Labor Government, helping to deliver cost-of-living relief right across Warren-Blackwood.”

Liberal Party State director Simon Morgan said no preselections had been held yet and the outcome wouldn’t be known until after the next council sitting on March 2.

While it looked unlikely party leader and Vasse MLA Libby Mettam would face any revolts, Mr Morgan said it was too soon to comment on the strategy for Warren-Blackwood.

The seat was previously contested by high-profile Warner Glen dairy farmer Ross Woodhouse for the Liberal Party. Mr Woodhouse declined to comment on whether he would seek to run again.

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