Pilbara Electorate

28 Feb, 2013 01:00 AM
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The seat of Pilbara.
The seat of Pilbara.

WHEN Nationals WA leader Brendon Grylls announced last year that he was going to be leaving the National stronghold of Central Wheatbelt to contest a solidly held Labor seat in the Pilbara, many of the traditional Nationals voters were left wondering why?

But Mr Grylls is a man with a vision and that vision is strongly based on holding the balance of power after March 9 - as the party has done for the last four years.

Mr Grylls has taken it upon himself, as the leader, to contest a seat the Nationals have never held before in an attempt to build the National Party to an even stronger position.

And the word is that he may just pull it off.

But it won't be easy and it is definitely not a sure thing.

Mr Grylls needs to make up a 7.2 per cent margin on Pilbara candidate and popular Port Hedland mayor Kelly Howlett.

Howlett was the Greens candidate in this seat at the 2005 and 2008 State elections.

Labor's Tom Stephens holds the seat but is retiring.

He won the seat with a 3.6pc margin over the Nationals' Alan Cochrane but following the redistribution, where the seat has gained the shire of Roebourne from the North West and loses the shire of Ashburton to North-West Central, has been estimated at 7.2pc.

Mr Grylls is heavily relying on the success of the Royalties for Regions in the Pilbara with plenty of money being thrown at Karratha and Port Hedland.

Pilbara has been a strongly held Labor seat for the majority of its time, apart from a period where Liberal Charles Court held the seat in 1974-83.

But Mr Grylls is confident he can pull off a win, and WA Labor's interesting decision to preference Mr Grylls and not Liberal candidate George Levissianos could prove to be an interesting tactic by the party.

And if the seat plays out as expected, the Liberal preferences may be the deciding factor. The Liberals are preferencing Mr Grylls, so it may just be enough for the leader to have a historic victory.

There has been talk of Mr Grylls, should he lose this election, he may run for the Federal seat of Durack, but that would have to be seen as an unlikely event, as the Liberal preferences should see him safe.

FarmWeekly

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