MP up for Opposition task

Taelor PeluseyBusselton Dunsborough Times

Despite lamenting Labor’s landslide victory as a loss for regional WA, re-elected Liberal MLA Libby Mettam says she is up to the challenge of being an Opposition MP and is already applying pressure to the incoming State Government.

Mrs Mettam retained the Liberal stronghold of Vasse with about 65 per cent of the two-party preferred count and, as of Thursday’s figures, recorded one of the lowest swings to Labor by a re-elected Liberal at 6.1 per cent.

She was topped only by Churchlands MLA and former mines and petroleum, small business and finance minister Sean L’Estrange at 5.8 per cent.

Mrs Mettam told the Times the unprecedented State-wide swing to Labor was disappointing, but remained confident she could be an effective member in Opposition.

“While the outcome overall is bad and not at all positive for regional WA, I certainly look forward to the challenge and I do believe there are some things we can achieve in opposition,” she said.

“My focus will fairly and squarely be on getting the best outcome for this region and I certainly won’t be opposing pro-jects or policies for the sake of it.”

Thursday’s figures showed Mrs Mettam was one of just two Liberal candidates to win non-metropolitan seats, while two others hung in the balance with a slight tilt to Liberal.

Mrs Mettam said the lack of Liberal representation in the regions was a worry and she believed Premier-elect Mark McGowan might redirect regional funding to metro-based projects.

“We know Labor governments have a reputation for putting the regions last,” she said.

Some of Mrs Mettam’s focus in her second term will follow on from her first, including relocating the ageing Boyanup saleyards, accommodating the education needs of a booming population, attracting interstate flights to the Busselton-Margaret River Regional Airport, and investing in tourism.

Alhough she was saddened to see some Liberal plans fall away, such as slashing stamp duty for seniors, Mrs Mettam said she would continue fighting for others.

This week, she called on Labor to fund the widening of the carriageway between Busselton and Capel to dual lanes.

While Labor did not explicitly commit to widening the carriageway during its campaign, Mrs Mettam said it sat well with the party’s election pledges to reduce the regional road toll and ensure the South West received its fair share of Royalties for Regions.

“My focus will be very much calling on him (Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray) to support that project,” she said.

Mr Murray could not be reached for comment by print time.

Last month, former premier Colin Barnett told the Times the project, for which Mrs Mettam has long advocated, was a “medium-term project” and would “happen in the course of time in the next few years”.

On whether she was vying for a shadow ministry portfolio, Mrs Mettam said she was “keen to contribute in any way to hold the Labor government to account”.

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