Lib­er­als name BHP man as can­di­date

Pilbara News - - News - Gareth Parker

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.

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