WA NATIONALS leader Brendon Grylls has confirmed he will quit his safe Central Wheatbelt seat to contest the Pilbara seat in next year's election, despite warnings from the Premier that it was a "risky move."
Mr Grylls told ABC Radio he wanted to ensure the Nationals had numbers on the floor of Parliament to ensure the Royalties for Regions scheme continued.
"I don't want to wake up in March 2013 and have missed out by one seat on having the numbers on the floor of the parliament, which is what's needed, to make Royalties for Regions happen for another four years," he said.
Since 2008 Mr Grylls, who is regional development minister, has overseen the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars into the Pilbara through the Royalties for Regions scheme he championed when negotiating a governing alliance with the Liberal Party.
The Pilbara seat is to be vacated by retiring Labor MP Tom Stephens, and both Labor and the Liberal Party are expected to field strong candidates.
It is understood Port Hedland mayor Kelly Howlett could be Labor's candidate.
Yesterday Premier Colin Barnett urged Mr Grylls to "take a cold shower" and reconsider the move.
"My advice would be stay in the Wheatbelt. It could go any way, whichever way, there is no certainty up there," he said.
"The Liberal Party will have a candidate, hopefully a very strong candidate, so it will be a three-cornered contest, if Brendan decides to do that."
Mr Grylls said the Nationals wanted to maintain custodianship of the Royalties for Regions scheme.