Experienced Nationals leaving party

Experienced Nationals leaving party


Agribusiness
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MOORA farmer Philip Gardiner last week foreshadowed a decision to quit politics and become the second senior experienced member of The Nationals to leave the party within four weeks.

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MLC and member for the agriculture region Philip Gardiner will not be contesting next year's election.

MLC and member for the agriculture region Philip Gardiner will not be contesting next year's election.

MOORA farmer Philip Gardiner last week foreshadowed a decision to quit politics and become the second senior experienced member of The Nationals to leave the party within four weeks.

Citing disagreement with the party's pre-selection process, Mr Gardiner's planned exit follows on the heels of dumped former leader and long-time member Max Trenorden.

Despite being second on the ticket, Mr Gardiner said he was disgruntled with the pre-selection process adopted by the party and would not be re-contesting next year's election.

He said the process compromised the merit and the strategic direction of the National Party.

"The process does not expose merit in the way I believe it should, not just in relation to Max Trenorden, but in relation to all candidates," he said.

"Strategically for the party, I believed it was important to have Mr Trenorden as number one."

Mr Gardiner took a swipe at the process and said it needed to be reviewed and reformed to better expose the merits and the deficiencies of each candidate.

"We need to get people into parliament who are beyond just good speakers and have the capacity to make good judgements," he said.

"The pre-selection process currently relies on an employment-type system with a resume and short interview.

"In a commercial sense, a resume and interview are the two worst indicators of how well a particular person will perform in the role.

"The best understanding of a candidate, as from potential employees, comes from when you talk to referees.

"If you ask the right questions you can learn quite a bit about their character."

Mr Gardiner said he had previously held doubts about the value of the pre-selection process but the recent events had seen him sharpen his views on the issue.

"It is a positive sign the Nationals are attracting more young people, but it is important to maintain the balance of new blood and experience," he said.

"You absolutely have to have new people coming through because it is a crucial part of the party.

"But I have always believed you need a broad cross-section of people and a balance of youth and experience."

Max Trenorden agreed with Mr Gardiner and said youth and enthusiasm was something needing encouragement and nurturing, but added experience was irreplaceable.

Mr Trenorden was disenchanted by the direction of the National Party and said he was concerned about Mr Gardiner's decision.

"I tried hard to talk Mr Gardiner out of doing what he did," he said.

"But in the end it came down to his own beliefs and values.

"He is a man of principle and I respect that."

Mr Trenorden said the National's pre-selection process, while democratic, was outrageous.

"No one can argue that it isn't democratic because everyone gets one vote, but in many cases not everyone knows who they are voting for," he said.

"In my own case I was asked to vote recently on people in the Kimberley and in Esperance who I didn't know from a bar of soap.

"I am meant to, in a five minute speech and a written CV, decide who is the best of them and that shouldn't be the case.

"In the past it was the district who would decide who was best to represent them.

"To centralise everything is very dangerous for a political party."

Mr Trenorden said he would wait until the situation cooled down before making any decisions on his future.

Nationals WA president Colin Holt said he was disappointed Mr Gardiner had decided to quit politics but defended the party's pre-selection process.

"The process is robust and we have an outstanding set of candidates," he said.

"It has delivered us some very good people to stand up for regional WA, and Mr Gardiner was part of that process."

Mr Holt added that since the last pre-selection there had been an influx of new members.

"Previously the State council was restricted to general heartland and through the Wheatbelt but Nationals aren't like that anymore," he said.

"Now we have people from Broome, Kununurra and Karratha right down to Esperance, which is a very positive thing for us to be witnessing in regional WA.

"We are growing really well."

Mr Gardiner said he was looking forward to spending more time on the farm in Moora and with his family.

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