WA Nationals give Liberals the flick

23 Feb, 2006 01:03 PM

THE WA Nationals will cut ties with traditional Coalition partner the Liberal Party and contest the next election as an Independent party.

Nationals WA leader Brendon Grylls said the party's state executive had decided earlier this year to be an Independent, conservative party that would sit on the crossbenches.

Mr Grylls said this approach would ensure the Nationals could put all their energies into attaining the few rural seats left after one-vote, one-value legislation decimated rural electorate numbers.

"We have realised that a Coalition Government with true rural representation was not possible in partnership with the WA Liberals," Mr Grylls said.

"I can't see there being any more than five country members of parliament in any new government.

"So in a tightly fought election the Nationals would be in a good position to have the balance of power."

Mr Grylls said the party's message to country people was to think harder about their political preference because one-vote, one-value had taken away the country voice from WA parliament.

"But if we all band together as a rural bloc then we will win a balance of power position," he said.

Liberal Party leader Matt Birney said he thought most farmers would be appalled if the Nationals passed up the chance to form a Coalition Government if the two parties had a majority together.

"By saying they will never form a Coalition with us is to hand Labor a sure victory," Mr Birney said.

"The one-vote, one-value threat is huge to the Nationals and while we realise we are their main rivals in many of the country seats we have never said we will not form a Coalition Government.

"We just don't talk about Coalition until the year before the election and we planned to do just that, but the Nationals seem determined to ruin any chances of success we could jointly have."

p Last week Victorian Senator Julian McGauran defected from the Nationals to join the Liberal Party.


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