Augusta Margaret River Times

Labor loses 4th spot to pro cannabis MLC

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The long wait for recounting votes in the South West’s Upper House race has confirmed Labor falling achingly short of sending four members to Parliament, while a surprise pro-cannabis candidate has won through.

The final list of six elected members kept shifting right up to the close of recounting late last week.

Legalise Cannabis WA’s Sophia Moermond and Nationals newbie James Hayward claimed the in-doubt seats, mainly due to the Upper House’s arcane preference-calculatio­n system which could now go under review with Labor dominating both Houses of Parliament.

As reported last week, Liberal MLC Steve Thomas secured his position, and Labor veterans Sally Talbot and Alannah MacTiernan also won.

First-termer Jackie Jarvis, of Cowaramup, was among Labor’s newest additions to caucus.

The result showed Labor factional politics in the lead-up to the March poll made no dent on the evergreen popularity of star Premier Mark McGowan, credited with the thumping overall election result.

Veteran Bunbury-based Labor MLC Adele Farina was dumped from preselecti­ons to allow Ms MacTiernan to make an Upper House shift, with her new electorate office expected to be in Albany where she owns a home.

With calculatio­ns finished, eyes will now turn to where newly minted pollies will set up shop, amid convincing rumours Dr Thomas will relocate from Margaret River to serve the depleted Liberals elsewhere — perhaps in Bunbury, closer to his old Lower House seat of Capel (which no longer exists), with the seat once a Liberal stronghold now secure under Labor’s Don Punch. Ms Jarvis declined to confirm the location of her office. Manjimup Shire president and former Liberal leader Paul Omodei was among those calling for new members to support major regional centres, with ousted South West members Diane Evers, from the Greens, and One Nation’s Colin Tincknell making Perth home during their last terms.

Legalise Cannabis’ Ms Moermond was a Perth resident and was yet to declare her intentions after a cascade of preference flows — including from the Greens — which also helped deny Labor the election of fourth candidate John Mondy, as well as Ms Evers’ re-election.

The quota system used to determine Upper House elections will be in the spotlight, after the election of US-based Australian citizen Wilson Tucker for the Daylight Saving Party in Mining and Pastoral.

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