The rise and fall of a political king-maker
Five days of balance-of-power negotiations in 2008 changed the fortunes of WA’s regions.
They also etched the name of Brendon Grylls — king-maker — on to the political landscape.
Those talks allowed Mr Grylls to implement the $8 billion Royalties for Regions program, which redirects millions of dollars in royalties into a fund for projects in country WA.
Former WA Nationals leader Hendy Cowan, whose retirement in 2003 made way for Mr Grylls in the seat of Merredin, was angered by the news of his successor’s demise in the recent State election He said two of Mr Grylls’ accomplishments stood out — passing the legislative base for Royalties for Regions spending and extending the National Party’s influence beyond its traditional base and into the mining and pastoral region.
“The money was already there,” Mr Cowan said. “He didn’t have to argue for it. “He was able to achieve that. “Without money, action does not follow.”
Mr Grylls moved his family to Karratha in the lead-up to the 2013 poll, in leaving his Central Wheatbelt seat-for-life.
Just four years after he entered Parliament in 2001, he replaced Max Trenorden as State leader.
He held the overall balance of power in 2008 and chose to support Colin Barnett as Premier, allowing the Liberals to form a minority government.
Citing a desire to focus on his personal life, Mr Grylls resigned from the ministry and as leader of the National Party in 2013, only to return three years later, replacing Terry Redman.
Mr Grylls’ former chief of staff, Doug Cunningham, recounted Mr Grylls delivering his “mantra” at a function in the lead-up to the 2008 election.
“We are not enticed by the trappings of high office. Ours is a calling to serve country people linked by the common thread of political neglect,” Mr Cunningham recalled Mr Grylls saying.
Mr Redman said Mr Grylls left a great legacy.
Nationals leader Brendon Grylls was defeated in his Pilbara electorate.