Seat still hang­ing in the bal­ance

Pilbara News - - Election 2017 - Tom Zaun­mayr

Win or lose, the Pil­bara hasn’t seen the end of the Grylls fam­ily, with in­cum­bent mem­ber Bren­don Grylls keen to put his money where his mouth is should he fall short of re­tain­ing his seat.

Mr Grylls has talked the talk in the last few years about how the pre­vi­ous Gov­ern­ment’s Pil­bara Cities ini­tia­tive has cre­ated com­mu­ni­ties fam­i­lies can call home.

With his seat up in the air — he was 302 votes be­hind La­bor on a two-party pre­ferred ba­sis at time of print — Mr Grylls could be about to test the suc­cess of the re­gion-build­ing projects he helped cre­ate.

“If I do lose I’ll have to find a job but I hope I can stay here,” he said.

“The kids are well es­tab­lished in school and this is a fan­tas­tic com­mu­nity. Com­ing here has been good for our fam­ily re­gard­less of po­lit­i­cal out­comes. The last five years haven’t been about build­ings, plaques or spend­ing money.

“It has been about mak­ing the Pil­bara a de­sir­able place to live.

“Even­tu­ally my game will come to an end, and whether that’s this week or not, I know I have al­ways stayed true to what I be­lieve in.”

Mr Grylls joked peo­ple were more con­cerned about the lo­cal wa­ter polo team los­ing a qual­ity player in his wife, Su­san, than his own po­lit­i­cal fu­ture should his fam­ily have to leave.

The Na­tion­als leader per­formed well in his home town of Kar­ratha but lost ground to La­bor in Hed­land and was smashed in New­man, run­ning a dis­tant fourth be­hind Lib­eral, La­bor and Pauline Han­son’s One Na­tion.

At the time of print, Mr Grylls had 27.76 per cent of the pri­mary vote, 3.5 per cent be­hind La­bor with 57.91 per cent of vote counted.

La­bor can­di­date Kevin Michel has rid­den the ups and downs of the pre-boom, boom and post-boom pe­ri­ods. He has watched the in­flux of high-vis work­ers come and go and seen the Pil­bara Cities plan trans­form the re­gion.

Mr Michel said see­ing the frus­tra­tions of lo­cal con­trac­tors and sup­pli­ers, as well as tough times for his own busi­ness, were the driv­ing forces be­hind his emo­tion­ally charged cam­paign.

“Peo­ple are strug­gling and I find it so hard to un­der­stand why, given we are the rich­est re­gion,” he said. “I re­ally en­joyed the cam­paign. “I was ac­tu­ally able to lose a bit of weight in the process and it has given me a lot of ideas about what is go­ing on in this re­gion. If I do come into power I will fight for our peo­ple, I will make sure ev­ery­one is ac­count­able for what is hap­pen­ing in this re­gion. “It’s our re­gion, and our peo­ple. “If we don’t look af­ter our­selves who will?”

Run­ning as a first-time can­di­date for a party on the nose was al­ways go­ing to be a hard ask for Mark Alchin. The Lib­eral can­di­date had at­tracted 14.63 per cent of the vote at the time of print, down from 23.1 per cent in 2013.

Mr Alchin will have some so­lace in the fact his home town of New­man put him first ahead of La­bor.

He said he had en­joyed the cam­paign trail, cred­it­ing his team for cre­at­ing a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Any can­di­date, when they put their hand up, they put busi­nesses on hold or leave their work,” he said. “I owe a huge amount of grat­i­tude to my wife and am look­ing for­ward to spend­ing more time with my son Henry as well.”

Despite all the hype from Pauline Han­son’s One Na­tion about its chances of pick­ing up the Pil­bara seat, can­di­date David Archibald failed to live up to ex­pec­ta­tions.

Mr Archibald polled be­low 10 per cent in Kar­ratha and Port Hed­land, but did pick up stronger sup­port in New­man and Wick­ham.

The Shoot­ers, Fish­ers and Farm­ers Party’s high pro­file can­di­date Fiona White-Har­tig was an­other who didn’t live up to her own lofty ex­pec­ta­tions.

Mrs White-Har­tig romped in in her home town of Wick­ham and per­formed well in Kar­ratha, but strug­gled to at­tract sup­port else­where in the seat.

At the time of print, the Greens’ pri­mary vote had fallen from five per cent in 2013 to 3.74 per cent.

Flux and the Mi­cro Busi­ness Party at­tracted just a hand­ful of votes each.

About a quar­ter of votes in the Pil­bara elec­torate were cast early.

Pic­tures: Tom Zaun­mayr

Bren­don Grylls said the chal­lenge from La­bor had been stronger than ex­pected.

Pil­bara La­bor can­di­date Kevin Michel casts his vote.

Pil­bara Lib­eral can­di­date Mark Alchin hands out how to vote cards.

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