Alliance focuses on regions

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
The Nationals WA South West MLC James Hayward.
Camera IconThe Nationals WA South West MLC James Hayward. Credit: Nicolette Barbas Picture:

The WA National and Liberal parties have vowed to champion regional voices in Parliament, with the two parties forming the Alliance in Opposition last week.

The National Party technically holds Opposition status after winning more Lower House seats in the March State election than the Libs, but the two parties have agreed to work together to scrutinise policies and “hold the Labor Government to account”.

Nationals Leader Mia Davies said the Alliance in Opposition agreement built on previous coalition agreements while reflecting the current Opposition status of each party.

“Because this is an alliance, not a coalition, it also acknowledges and accommodates the management of any differences in position or policy that may arise between the two Parties,” Ms Davies said.

Newly-elected South West Nationals MLC James Hayward, pictured, said he would be making sure the Government delivered on election promises.

“They have made a heap of commitments and we will be making sure they deliver on them,” Mr Hayward said.

Being promoted to a senior Cabinet role, many have raised concerns Bunbury MLA Don Punch may not have time to devote to his local electorate, but Mr Hayward believes the exact opposite is true.

“He has the ear of the Premier, he’s got no excuse not to deliver,” Mr Hayward said.

Mr Hayward steps into the gap left by South West Nationals MLC Colin Holt, who announced ahead of the March election he would not run for the seat.

Mr Holt said the next few years could be interesting and he was concerned the regions would be forgotten.

“There are so many new ALP members who won seats at the election,” Mr Holt said, pointing out not just new Labor members, but members from the smaller parties.

“These new ones are going to take ages to find their feet.

“For the independents who have very little experience in this kind of role, there is going to be a baptism of fire.”

South West Liberal MLC Steve Thomas has taken the role of Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House.

Dr Thomas said while WA was in a strong economic position now because of the mining boom, this may not last.

“The Government has a lot of money in the coffers but is still struggling to deliver services,” Dr Thomas said. “There are fewer seats ... but we are still committed to the role Opposition plays.

“We will continue to do our job in scrutinising everything the Government does.”

Also the shadow treasurer, Dr Thomas said the current inflated iron ore price was a key reason for WA’s financial strength.

Iron ore hit about US$180 per tonne in December, far above the market standard of US$60 per tonne.

Dr Thomas believes royalties have helped fund WA’s COVID-19 response, but said this level of cash flow could not last.

“I will be focused on making sure we future-proof the State from the next correction in iron ore pricing,” he said.

“It’s about planning for the future as well as providing for today.”

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