Liberals name BHP man as candidate
The WA Liberal Party is to preselect a 33-year-old BHP Billiton manager from Newman to try to knock off Nationals leader Brendon Grylls in his Pilbara seat.
Mark Alchin, the superintendent of health, safety and environment at BHP’s Mt Whaleback mine, was the only nominee when the deadline for applications passed earlier this month.
Dr Alchin has a PhD in environmental science from Curtin University and a bachelor of applied science from Queensland university, according to a CV posted on LinkedIn.
He has worked for BHP in health, safety and environmental rehabilitation roles, and previously worked for the Department of Agriculture in Meekatharra and Kununurra.
Party strategists are enthusiastic about his candidacy as the Liberals square off with Mr Grylls and the Nationals over their divergent economic policies.
Mr Grylls has seized the political agenda with his proposal to raise a production rental fee from 25¢ and tonne to $5 on BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto’s iron ore production, which the Liberals oppose and the companies claim will cost jobs and investment.
“He’s a senior figure at BHP but he’s also a local,” a senior party source said. “He’s ready for the fight. “Grylls will no doubt try to paint him as a company man, but he’s someone who has been a (Liberal) party member for a while and had it in the back of his mind for some time.”
Liberal strategists have not regarded Pilbara as a key seat in their election strategy, preferring to focus resources on defending key seats from Labor in the metropolitan area.
The Liberals are also hopeful Dr Alchin’s campaign could benefit from mining company donations as they seek to oppose Mr Grylls’ revenue slug.
Pre-selection is to be formally endorsed at the end of this week.