WESTERN Australian Liberal Senator Chris Back’s staff member Pierrette Kelly has been endorsed as the party’s new candidate for Fremantle, at the July 2 election.
The decision was made at the Liberal’s pre-selection meeting held in Perth today, following the ongoing controversy surrounding the party’s original pre-selected candidate Sherry Sufi.
Mr Sufi resigned as the Liberal’s Fremantle representative saying he did not want to continue distracting the party’s election campaign due to his past statements made about same sex marriage and other embarrassing comments.
Ms Kelly was unanimously endorsed as his replacement and is a 48- year old former school teacher having served at the John Curtin College of the Arts in Fremantle.
She has also worked previously as a diplomatic official for the South African embassy in London and has served for Senator Back over the past seven years where she has focused on rural and agricultural policy.
“I’m very humbled to accept the Liberal Party’s nomination to be the endorsed candidate for Fremantle,” she said.
“I want to move forward as quickly as possible and get on with delivering for the people of Fremantle in areas like the economy, for creating jobs and growth, and infrastructure.”
Labor’s original pre-selected candidate for Fremantle, union official Chris Brown, was also recently disendorsed amid allegations he failed to disclose past convictions dating back to the 1980’s when he was a teenager, with the party’s national executive instead choosing Fremantle deputy Mayor Josh Wilson as the new candidate.
Labor is seeking to retain the seat held by retiring MP Melissa Parke who has held it since 2007.
Ms Parke was one of the party’s most vocal critics of the live export trade in the previous parliament but held Fremantle by a 4.8 per cent lead, at the 2013 poll.
The Greens have also issued a strong challenge for the WA metropolitan coastal seat through 34 year-old lawyer Kate Davis but Ms Kelly said she would work harder than the other candidates to “deliver the best outcomes for the people of Fremantle”.
“I understand families and what it’s like to struggle to pay the bills because I do it myself and what it’s like sitting in traffic congestion,” she said.
“I want to ensure my teenage children can get jobs after they’ve finished their education, that they are safe and they also have a strong future to look forward to in this country and that’s what a Liberal government can deliver, under Malcolm Turnbull.”
Ms Kelly said working for Senator Back she had gained important experience in several important policy areas including through his service on the rural and regional affairs committee, employment and education and foreign affairs foreign affairs, defence and trade.
Yesterday, WA Liberal Senator and party power-broker Mathias Cormann played down the controversy over Mr Sufi saying the candidate had resigned and “The reasons are all out there for all to see in his statement”.
“These are entirely matters for the West Australian branch of the Liberal party and I'm confident that they will deal with this appropriately,” he said.