Having only been in the role for about a year and in what is a huge blow for The Nationals WA, MP for North West Central Merome Beard has resigned from the party, defecting to the Liberals WA.
State opposition and The Nationals WA leader Shane Love announced he had received Ms Beard's resignation yesterday evening.
"This evening at 7pm I received notification from the Member for North West Central Ms Merome Beard MLA of her resignation from The Nationals WA," Mr Love said.
"Just over a year ago, dedicated members of The Nationals WA from all corners of the State worked tirelessly, raised funds, and contributed significantly to elect Ms Beard as a member of the State Parliament under The Nationals WA banner.
"Tonight, I share their disappointment.
"The Nationals WA remains committed to the people of the North West and ensuring the Cook Labor government is removed from power in 2025."
Ms Beard's shock resignation follows the Western Australian Electoral Commission's (WAEC) proposal to morph the regional seats of Moore and North West Central into one new 'Mid West' seat, due to the low number of voters in each district.
However by defecting to The Liberals WA, it is anticipated that Ms Beard will go toe to toe with Mr Love for the potentially new Mid West seat at the next State election.
Significantly, the move means both parties will hold three seats in the Legislative Assembly, allowing for the Liberals to make a play for the official status of WA's State Opposition, which has been held by The Nationals since the last State election in 2021.
Ms Beard comfortably retained The Nationals WA seat in a by-election last November.
She is a publican that has lived in Carnarvon for the past 20 years and grown up in the pastoral industry.
The seat was previously held by The Nationals WA MP Vince Catania, who announced his resignation in early 2022 with the intention of spending more time with his family.
Spread across 820,591 square kilometres, the North West Central electorate incorporates 17 towns as well as numerous communities, and includes 11,189 registered voters.
Upon being appointed to parliament last year Ms Beard said her familiarity with the electorate would be beneficial in enabling her to serve the region effectively.
"I have an understanding of the industries here and I've had jobs along the way that have taken me to other towns like Kalbarri within my electorate, so I've been fortunate in that sense," Ms Beard said.
"While some of the issues of the towns are similar or the same, they all have their own individual needs as well and situations that need rectifying.
"Crime is a well known one, the provision of housing and actually affordable housing is a big issue for a lot of people, for locals to be able to stay in their towns.
"Then there are the worker shortages as well as the shortage of worker housing, particularly in Exmouth, Kalbarri and even in places like Tom Price.
"People that are wanting to go up and work, in say childcare, are paying very high rents which just aren't possible for a lot of people."
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