WESTERN AUSTRALIAN ELECTION 2017
Legislative Council: Agricultural
The 2008 result did much to establish the conservatives' upper house dominance, with the three Nationals supplemented by two Liberals, leaving only one seat for Labor. With one exception, the five elections held under the five-member regime from 1989 to 2005 returned four seats for the Liberals and Nationals between them, with the Liberals winning three in 2005 and even splits recorded on the other occasions. The exception was the 2001 election, at which the Liberals and Nationals went from two seats each to one seat each. One Nation scored enough of the vote on that occasion to elect their lead candidate, Frank Hough, and deliver a decisive surplus to the Greens through their decision to place both major parties last on preferences. The successful Greens candidate was former Senator Dee Margetts, who stood little hope of re-election without the one-off of One Nation preferences in 2005.
The Liberal ticket is headed by Jim Chown, who was first elected from second position on the party ticket in 2008. He was elevated to first position at the 2013 election, then promoted to parliamentary secretary.
It reportedly took the casting vote on the party's preselection panel to prevent Chown from being demoted in favour of the non-incumbent occupant of the second position on the party's ticket, Steve Martin. Martin is a Wickepin farmer who ran unsuccessfully from third position at the 2013 election.
Martin's position at number two was gained at the expense of Brian Ellis, who was elected from top of the ticket in 2008 and second position in 2013, and is now relegated to number three. Ellis first entered parliament through a casual vacancy in July 2007, and has failed to win promotion off the back bench.
The Nationals entered the 2013 election with a clean slate after the top two candidates elected in 2008, Max Trenorden and Philip Gardiner, quit the party and ran as their own independent ticket, and the third, Mia Davies, filled the lower house vacancy created in Central Wheatbelt by Brendon Grylls' move to Pilbara.
The first of the two elected Nationals was Martin Aldridge, a former chief-of-staff to Tony Crook in his time as federal member for O'Connor MP (he is now running for Kalgoorlie in the lower house), followed by Paul Brown, whose background was in the live export industry. Brown is now contesting the lower house seat of Geraldton, where he faces the difficult challenge of unseating Liberal incumbent Ian Blayney. There were suggestions that this might be because Brown, who had initially been selected to run fourth on the ticket in 2013, might struggle to retain preselection for second spot, with one report identifying WAFarmers president Dale Park as a potential challenger.
The second position has instead gone to Colin de Grussa, a Neridup pastoralist who narrowly failed to unseat Liberal member Graham Jacobs in the lower house seat of Eyre in 2013. Third on the ticket is Narrogin Shire president Leigh Ballard.
Darren West won Labor's only Agricultural seat in 2013 after winning top position on the ticket at the expense of incumbent, Matt Benson-Lidholm, who was unsuccessful as the second candidate. West was formerly a Jennacubbine farmer and chair of the Wheatbelt Development Commission. Labor's initial choice for second candidate was Renee Ellis, a lawyer and Geraldton councillor, but she withdrew at the end of January after council passed a motion calling on her to resign, apparently for missing council meetings, telling rude jokes on Facebook, and allegations of sexual harassment.
Ellis's place has been taken by another Geraldton councillor, Laurie Graham, a former manager of the Geraldton Port Authority (who walked out of the council meeting that considered the motion against Ellis). Number three is Carol Martin, who became the first indigenous woman elected to the parliament as member for Kimberley from 2001 to 2013.
The winner of Shooters and Fishers' first ever seat at the 2013 election (the party has since lengthened its name) was Rick Mazza, a farmer from Rocky Gully.
One Nation's candidate is Rod Caddies, owner of a company that puts on rodeo events. The Greens candidate is Ian James, a farmer from Cunderdin.
The principal beneficiary of the main micro-party preference deal in Agricultural is the Liberal Democrats, whose candidate is Bunbury draughtsman Connor Whittle.
Other lead candidates for small parties are Murray Yarran (Family First), Lewis Freer (Flux the System), Trevor Young (Australian Christians), Vince Radford (Daylight Saving Party), Phillip Strahan (Fluoride Free), David Jennings (Micro Business Party) and Peter Smith (Julie Matheson for WA).
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