Labor courts Wanneroo Mayor in battle for Pearce

WA Labor looks set to enlist Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts in its bid to win Pearce at the next federal election. Picture: Anita McInnes

WA Labor looks set to throw its support behind Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts in a bid to wrestle the seat of Pearce from the Liberal’s Christian Porter.

Labor is considering potential candidates for three federal seats including Pearce with preselection due to be finalised by early July.

Former attorney general and now Industry, Science and Technology Minister Mr Porter, who was until recently was embroiled in a defamation case with the ABC, has held Pearce since 2013.

On Monday, June 14 WA Labor state secretary and campaign director Tim Picton said the party was looking forward to announcing its team soon after the conclusion of the preselection process.

“Tracey is a fantastic representative of people in the Wanneroo area who have been let down by the Federal Liberals, including when Christian Porter backed Clive Palmer and tried to pull down the borders at the height of the pandemic,’’ he said.

As recently as February 24 Mrs Roberts told Yanchep News Online she was not a member of the Labor party.

Before the March state election a picture of Mrs Roberts with Premier Mark McGowan and Butler MLA John Quigley was used in a campaign poster and at the time WA Labor said she was aware of it being used.

Mrs Roberts did not answer when asked if she gave approval for the picture to be used why she agreed knowing it would most likely give the impression she was politically aligned with WA Labor.

Changes to federal boundaries will apply at the next federal election as Western Australia has lost one electoral division due to its population not growing as fast as other states.

In March ABC election analyst Antony Green predicted the redistribution changes in Pearce would benefit Labor and could result in Mr Porter’s margin being cut from 7.5 per cent to 5.2 per cent.

The redistribution involves the transfer of six Wheatbelt shires, including the Shire of Gingin, from the division of Pearce to Durack and O’Connor.

The redistribution means Pearce except for the addition of a couple of City of Swan suburbs – Cullacabadee, Melaleuca and part of Lexia – will mostly consist of the suburbs of the City of Wanneroo for which Mrs Roberts has been the mayor since 2011.

Mrs Roberts is also the WA Local Government Association president and the Australian Local Government Association vice president.

Pearce MHR Christian Porter says he will put himself forward at the next election to continue to represent residents in Canberra.

To avoid conflicts of interest Prime Minister Scott Morrison moved Mr Porter to Industry, Science and Technology on March 30 after he had sued the ABC for defamation after identifying himself as the Cabinet minister facing a historical rape allegation at the centre of an ABC story.

Mr Porter has strenuously denied the allegations.

On May 31 the ABC and Mr Porter agreed to end the defamation case.

Yanchep News Online asked Mr Porter if Mrs Roberts was preselected would her knowledge and support in the Wanneroo area make her a tough opponent to have in Pearce in the upcoming federal election and whether the redistribution of the seat make would make his job to get re-elected more difficult.

Mr Porter did not answer the questions but said preselection decisions were a matter for the Labor party.

“However, I’m extremely proud of what we have been able to achieve for the people of Pearce during the past seven and a half years,’’ he said.

He said the Morrison Government had made significant investments in the community including:

  • $350 million to create Yanchep rail with stations at Alkimos, Eglinton and Yanchep;
  • $173.1m to extend the Mitchell Fwy from Burns Beach Rd to Hester Ave;
  • $154m to extend the Mitchell Fwy to Romeo Rd and widen it between Hodges Dr and Hepburn Ave;
  • $32.6m to upgrade the Wanneroo Rd and Joondalup Dr interchange;
  • $24.8m to upgrade Wanneroo Rd from Joondalup Dr to Flynn Dr;
  • $5m to plan the northern suburbs aquatic facility and kick-start construction;
  • $5m to develop Halesworth Park in Butler; and
  • $2.5m to upgrade Flynn Drive, Neerabup.

“We also fixed the GST problem which will deliver $5.3 billion for WA in the coming financial year,’’ he said.

“My commitment to the community has not changed.

“I look forward to putting myself forward at the next election to continue to represent our community in Canberra.’’

A Department of Local Government spokeswoman said a mayor would be required to resign and an extraordinary election would be conducted to fill the vacant position, if a current popularly elected mayor was elected to a state or federal seat.

The mayor would not be required to resign when preselected or nominated but only when declared elected.