CBH director steps down for election

11 May, 2016 01:00 AM
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East Pingelly farmer and The Nationals candidate for the seat of O'Connor at the July 2 Federal election, John Hassell has stood down from the CBH Group board until after the election.
East Pingelly farmer and The Nationals candidate for the seat of O'Connor at the July 2 Federal election, John Hassell has stood down from the CBH Group board until after the election.

CBH Group director John Hassell has stood down from the board until after the Federal election is decided.

The East Pingelly grain and sheep farmer who also runs a contract spraying business, was pre-selected on May 1 for The Nationals to try to win back the sprawling rural seat of O'Connor at the July 2 election.

The seat is held for the Liberal Party by Katanning sheep and grain farmer Rick Wilson who won it in 2013 after Kalgoorlie-based independent National Tony Crook resigned after spending most of his one term sitting on the crossbenches.

Mr Hassell was granted leave of absence from the board, that he was elected to for a third term in January, for the duration of the election campaign.

"I had three courses of action open to me, I could have remained on the board and declared any conflicts of interest, I could seek leave of absence, which I did, or I could resign, which I wasn't prepared to do that at this stage," Mr Hassell said on Monday during a break from seeding.

"It's an amazing looking season so far and probably for the first time I was ready for it, but an election has got in the way," he said.

Mr Hassell said he had been watching O'Connor for some time but had not intended standing for Federal parliament until he learned The Nationals did not have a candidate chosen to contest it.

"I went home consulted my wife and three children first, but it was a fairly quick decision to run."

His stepping down was announced on the CBH website on Friday afternoon last week.

"He will not act on behalf of the CBH Group in any capacity and views expressed during this election campaign are wholly his own views and do not represent the views of the CBH Group or the board of directors," it said.

First elected to the board in 2009, Mr Hassell was chairman of the CBH Growers Advisory Council selection panel, a member of the Audit and Risk Management Committee and CBH-appointed representative on the Co-operatives WA Council.

He remains president of WAFarmers' Upper Great Southern zone.

Mr Hassell defeated former Kalgoorlie policeman and The Nationals WA staffer Charles Smith to become the party's endorsed O'Connor candidate.

He and Mr Wilson, a former Pastoralists and Graziers Association Western Graingrowers president, have clashed previously over opinions on the former single desk for wheat and CBH's future structure.

Mr Hassell said if elected he planned to attend party meetings and be a part of the coalition if it was returned to government, but he would be prepared to cross the floor on issues affecting O'Connor residents.

"The big story is, as an independent National, I will be able to cross the floor in areas that I believe are in the best interests of my electorate and that's something neither of the major parties will allow their people to do," he said.

"You have more chance of being heard if you stand out from the crowd," he said.

"Federal politicians who are part of a major political party are inextricably tied to their parties and are not able to stand up for their individual electorates and we've seen people come unstuck because of it.

"But I'm prepared, if it's in the best interests of my electorate and my State, to cross the floor."

Mr Hassell said issues he would be prepared to cross the floor on and vote against Federal coalition colleagues were increasing WA's share of the GST and tax increases for backpacker farm labourers.

He said he'd gained great experience of farming and politics, especially dealing with government relations and regulations through his CBH board role and had also worked in the mining industry.

Mr Hassell said he would not be afraid to debate Mr Wilson during the election campaign on the merits of a wheat export single desk or CBH corporatisation "but I'm not going to hang my hat on it".

He has a Bachelor of business in agriculture from Curtin Muresk Institute of Agriculture and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

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READER COMMENTS

perrenial aspirant
12/05/2016 6:37:55 AM, on Farm Weekly

Simply, Mr Hassell wants his cake and wants to eat it too. The best thing he could do for his family, the constituents of O'Conner and the CBH members is stay at home permanently. Pick those rocks John. You've been driving past them for 15 years!
Deregul8
13/05/2016 10:38:49 AM, on Farm Weekly

Just another example of a farmer who sees more profits in socialist politics. Lets eliminate the niches they are created in and the Wheatbelt will be a better place. The only place left to nurture these types is on the CBH board.

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