Blayney officially endorsed by the Nats

Blayney officially endorsed by the Nats


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WA Nationals leader Mia Davies with her party's newest MP, former Liberal Ian Blayney who represents the seat of Geraldton.

WA Nationals leader Mia Davies with her party's newest MP, former Liberal Ian Blayney who represents the seat of Geraldton.

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The Nationals WA's newest MP Ian Blayney expects to learn what portfolio responsibilities he will be assigned by the end of this week, after defecting across from the Liberal Party.

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THE Nationals WA's newest MP Ian Blayney expects to learn what portfolio responsibilities he will be assigned by the end of this week, after defecting across from the Liberal Party.

But the Geraldton MP revealed on Monday he was not expecting to become WA Nationals' agriculture and food spokesman, after he was unanimously endorsed at his new party's state council meeting on Saturday.

Agriculture Region MLC Colin de Grussa is WA Nationals' spokesman on Fisheries as well as Agriculture and Food - considered a prime portfolio within the party and one sometimes held by WA Nationals and their Country Party predecessors as part of previous Liberal-National coalition State governments.

Terry Redman, Monty House and Dick Old were the last three WA Nationals to be either agriculture or primary industries ministers in the Barnett and Richard and Sir Charles Court governments.

"I think I'd have to climb over some dead bodies to get that one (agriculture portfolio)," said Mr Blayney, 57, who was born in Geraldton, grew up on a family farm at Eradu, between Geraldton and Mullewa, and ran the farm's wheat, barley and lupins cropping and Merino sheep enterprises for 25 years before gaining Liberal pre-selection and entering State politics in 2008.

"I have some idea of the portfolios I may be offered and I will be happy with those, I think they're a good fit," he said.

Mr Blayney was the Liberal Party's Agriculture and Food, Forestry and Fisheries spokesman for 13 months until April 2018 under former opposition leader Mike Nahan and continued as Agriculture and Food and Fisheries spokesman until June 27.

In her cabinet reshuffle, new opposition leader Liza Harvey stripped those portfolio responsibilities from Mr Blayney and transferred them to Jim Chown MLC.

Mr Blayney was the WA Liberals' spokesman on Lands, Aboriginal Affairs and Fisheries from June 27 until July 24, the day he resigned from the party.

Despite speculation that disappointment over the loss of the Agriculture and Food portfolio was the trigger for his defection - he boosts the WA Nationals parliamentary representation to 10, comprising six MLAs and four MLCs - Mr Blayney is adamant his close shave at the last State election was the catalyst.

He took the seat of Geraldton, the second smallest regional seat behind Bunbury in area, off Labor for the Liberals in 2008 with a two-party-preferred majority of 17.04 per cent.

In 2013 he extended his hold on the seat to 21.82pc over WA Nationals' Shane Van Styn, but in 2017 his very safe margin evaporated to a very marginal 2.66pc ahead of Labor's Lara Dutton.

Mr Blayney, who trailed on primary votes, retained the seat on preferences from then controversial WA Nationals adversary Paul Brown who had given up his Agriculture Region seat in the Legislative Council to contest the Legislative Assembly seat in an attempt to "protect regional WA from city-centric thinking".

Preferences from Pauline Hanson's One Nation candidate Wayne Martin also helped get him over the line.

Mr Blayney only won three of the 14 polling places in his own right.

A lack of Liberal Party support and resources in helping retain Geraldton was the main reason he switched parties, he said.

"The party had early polling which showed Geraldton was not at risk so they didn't put the resources into it," Mr Blayney said.

"They didn't expect the result to be as close as it ended up and I couldn't convince them that the situation in the electorate was changing during the (election) campaign."

Mr Blayney said he would continue to work hard for the electorate as a WA Nationals local member.

"One of the things I've learned about representing a regional city - and I think it's the same in other regional cities - is that local people tend to want to own you as their local MP.

"They want to know that you're available to them, they invite you to a lot of functions and they are disappointed if you don't attend.

"Since being elected in 2008 I have been resolute in my objective to put the best interests of Geraldton high on the agenda of WA's Parliament.

"I'm looking forward to the next chapter as the Member for Geraldton and working alongside a parliamentary team focused on regional WA," he said.

WA Nationals leader Mia Davies said Mr Blayney's membership application was supported unanimously and he brought a wealth of experience to the team as a regional MP in Geraldton for 11 years.

"He has a reputation of working hard and helping people in his electorate, no matter what the issue and this has earned him great respect in his local community," Ms Davies said.

WA Nationals president James Hayward said Mr Blayney had worked through the same party membership application process as everyone else is required to do.

"Ian made it clear to our membership that he feels the issues and geography of his electorate make him a good fit for The Nationals WA," Mr Hayward said.

"The addition of an incumbent MP to our team, along with his deep understanding of the Geraldton community, strengthens the ability of The Nationals to represent regional WA."

His departure has left the Liberal Party WA with 13 members in the 59-member Legislative Assembly.

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