Nicholl to contest state election

25 Jan, 2005 10:00 PM
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FORMER WAFarmers president Colin Nicholl has thrown his hat into the political arena and will contest a parliamentary seat at the coming state election.

Mr Nicholl was approached by sitting WA New Country Party (NCP) leader Frank Hough some time ago to run on the party's ticket and decided to accept the offer two weeks ago.

He said his intention to run for an Agricultural Region seat in the Legislative Council was influenced by respected Merredin transport operator Frank Marley's decision to also take a spot on the NCP ticket.

Mr Nicholl said to win a seat, candidates would need about 26,000-27,000 votes.

"It is not going to be an easy ask but it's worth a shot," he said.

"It's our ambition to hold the balance of power and if the Government wants our support country interests should be looked after."

Mr Nicholl said the state's dairy industry had been devastated by deregulation and he did not want to see the same thing happen to the grains industry.

He also did not think he had seen farmers as united over an issue as they were against deregulation of wheat and prescribed grain exports.

Mr Nicholl said many farmers were particularly angry the State Government put the Grain Licencing Authority (GLA) in place just to gain a few million dollars in National Competition Policy payments.

He also said that when Westrail was sold farmers were told services would improve.

"That has not happened," he said.

In some areas rail transport had become more expensive than road transport and the high cost of transporting grain out of Shackleton remained a problem.

He also wanted the Government to boost the budget of the Agriculture Department so it once again had the ability to help farmers apply new research in the field.

Mr Hough hailed Mr Nicholl and Mr Marley's decision to run at the next election as a political coup.

"I think this field of candidates running for the seat of agriculture would be one of the most formidable ever fielded in a state election," Mr Hough said.

He said the knowledge and experience of Colin Nicholl as a farmer, businessman and WAFarmers president was unquestionable and significant to the Agricultural Region.

Some of the many posts Mr Marley has held include president of the Livestock Transport Association, inaugural president of the Transport Forum and a seat on the Merredin Hospital Board.

"The Agriculture Region and parliament will be well served by their invaluable experience," Mr Hough said.

Mr Nicholl will take second position on the NCP ticket and Mr Marley, owner of one of the state's largest livestock and grain carriers, will be in third spot.

Mr Hough expected the state election would be held on February 19.

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