After retaining North West Central seat, Vince Catania’s term four aim is to keep Labor honest
Scraping in for a fourth term after surviving the election bloodbath, Vince Catania admits the next four years in Opposition will be gruelling but believes Labor has the bigger challenge of not letting itself fall victim to “absolute power”.
Mr Catania, the Member for North West Central, is one of four National Lower House MPs to retain their seats, but yesterday would not be drawn on whether he supported entering into a coalition with the depleted Liberals, who only hold two Lower House seats.
The two parties are expected to meet this week to discuss what a coalition might look like.
The Nationals will become the official Opposition party after winning more seats than the Liberals. But neither party won enough seats to claim official party status, but Premier Mark McGowan has promised the opposition will be resourced to the same extent it was in the last Parliament.
Mr Catania said helping achieve an “open and transparent democracy” was his top priority in the wake of the seismic election rout, calling on the McGowan Government to relinquish some of its parliamentary power and for Opposition parties to stand united.
While admitting the next term of Government would be gruelling for the handful of people in the room whose loyalties were not tied to Premier Mark McGowan, Mr Catania said the bigger challenge was in the hands of Labor, saying governments with extreme majorities often made bad decisions. “Absolute power breeds absolute corruption,” the former Labor MP-turned National who has previously ruffled many ALP feathers said.
He also thanked his opponents, saying he knew how hard it was to put your hand up to run. He said this type of participation what crucial in establishing Carnarvon as a major regional centre.
To improve the power balance in the Legislative Assembly, Mr Catania is calling on Labor to hand control of the Public Accounts Committee — which inquires into expenditure of public money — to the Opposition, saying it is essential to preserving transparency of the system.
A State Government spokesperson said: “The composition of parliamentary committees is yet to be determined. This process will take place in due course.”
Amid speculation Mr Catania would make a play for the Nationals leadership, the 44-year-old MP yesterday did not rule out putting his hand up for the party’s top job one day, but said it was not on his current to-do list. He said he stood by Nationals Leader and new Opposition Leader Mia Davies unequivocally.
His main focus was playing a bigger role in holding the Labor Government to account, he said.
As questions mount over whether the Nationals and Liberals will form a coalition, Mr Catania said it was up to the party to decide its exact relationship with the Liberals.
However, he said he would like to see a “strong working relationship” between the two conservative parties.
“If you want to be an alternative Government, you need to show you can work together and be on the same page,” he said.
The Carnarvon-based MP retained the seat on preferences by 51.7 per cent on a two-party basis against Labor candidate Cherie Sibosado’s 48.3 per cent, but with 74 per cent of the votes counted, he was trailing Ms Sibosado by 39 votes in the popular count.
Mr Catania said the Government threw everything it had at him during the campaign.
“We were able to buck the trend because of the amount of work we put in over the last four years, not just the last few months,” he said.
“It will give me an opportunity to highlight the issues affecting the regions like worker accommodation and housing. As big as the swing was towards Labor, the swing against them (next election) will be bigger if they don’t work on those issues. (They) could make or break the government.”
After a long campaign in WA’s biggest electorate geographically, Mr Catania said he desperately needed to “recharge his batteries”.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails