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Accused MP fronts up to WA parliament

Michael RamseyAAP
James Hayward entered WA parliament on Tuesday night to have his attendance marked.
Camera IconJames Hayward entered WA parliament on Tuesday night to have his attendance marked. Credit: AAP

A West Australian MP facing child sex abuse charges has made a brief appearance in parliament ahead of his next court date.

James Hayward faces multiple charges relating to an eight-year-old girl, including persistent sexual conduct.

The 52-year-old former Nationals MP is yet to enter a plea and is due to return to Perth Magistrates Court on Monday, having been granted bail.

Hayward had been absent from the Legislative Council last week but entered the chamber for a matter of seconds on Tuesday night to have his attendance marked.

A failure to attend for six consecutive sitting days without being granted leave could have resulted in Hayward being found in contempt of parliament.

Hayward's fleeting attendance ensures he can retain his taxpayer-funded remuneration, which includes a base salary of $168,000 and more than $150,000 in allowances.

In a statement on Friday, the WA Nationals said they had received formal notice of Hayward's resignation from the party.

The Nationals had already suspended his membership following an emergency meeting of the state executive after the charges emerged.

Opposition Leader Mia Davies urged Hayward to quit parliament, saying her parliamentary colleagues agreed he should not retain his seat.

"Mr Hayward is facing serious charges, he has resigned his membership of our party and he should now resign from the parliament," the WA Nationals leader said on Friday.

"Our party took swift and immediate action in the hours after the matter was revealed, by suspending Mr Hayward, removing his membership rights and setting in motion procedures under The Nationals WA's constitution to consider his future.

"His resignation means we no longer need to pursue this action."

Ms Davies said she was shocked and distressed to learn of the allegations and had moved immediately to stand down Hayward from his shadow local government, water and regional cities portfolios.

"James has been in and around our party for some time. He's a colleague. You work very closely with people in this environment, so needless to say it's come as a shock to everybody that knows him," she said.

Hayward, who was elected to represent the South West region in the Legislative Council at the March election, had previously served as the Nationals' federal vice-president.

He had also worked as a local councillor in Bunbury and a television journalist and served as the West Nationals' state president.

It is open to Hayward to remain a member of parliament while the matter is determined by the courts.

Under their opposition alliance, the WA Nationals and Liberals hold a combined 16 seats in the 95-seat parliament.

Individuals convicted of persistent sexual conduct in WA face a maximum prison term of 20 years.

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