The National Party will add Kalgoorlie to its growing list of electoral prospects after Labor-turned-independent MP John Bowler announced his retirement from politics today.
His was the second political resignation of the day with Labor’s shadow housing minister Peter Tinley standing down from his portfolios after a major business investment made by his family hit financial trouble.
Mr Bowler, who will relinquish his 12-year hold on the prized Goldfields seat at the next election, has been a strong supporter of the Nationals since he was dumped by Labor in the fallout to Corruption and Crime Commission investigations into lobbyists Brian Burke and Julian Grill.
His announcement was brought forward by a week after public comments made by Premier Colin Barnett and his deputy Kim Hames during a 24-hour visit to the region.
“I thought I’d better get in before everyone else announced my decision but myself,” Mr Bowler said.
The 63-year-old said he hadn’t decided if he would back any of the election candidates, but no secret of his admiration for what the Nationals had achieved in rural WA.
“Royalties for Regions has been the game-changer in WA politics,” he said.
“I’m proud to have been part of that.”
Upper House MP Wendy Duncan will run for the Nationals against Labor’s Terrence Winner and the Liberals’ Melissa Price.
“I’ll back who I think is best for the seat,” Mr Bowler said.
Announcing his resignation from the Labor front bench, Mr Tinley said BHP’s decision to place a company called Port Village Accommodation into receivership needed his full attention.
“My wife is a director of a company which has invested in PVA,” he said.
“I am not a director or shareholder in any of the related companies. I am a beneficiary to our family trust which has invested in one of the related companies.”
PVA was an accommodation development in Port Hedland which was tied to BHP.
“I am deeply saddened that PVA has been placed into receivership in spite of the effort of all parties in the project,” he said. “However as a result of today’s development, there is no doubt going to be great personal upheaval and stress upon my family over the coming months.”
Labor Leader Mark McGowan said Mr Tinley’s portfolios of housing, planning and local jobs would be shared between MPs Bill Johnston and Fran Logan.