The Nationals WA have announced Pingelly farmer John Hassell as their candidate for the seat of O’Connor at the next federal election.
The seat is currently held by Liberal member Rick Wilson who easily retained his seat with over 65 per cent of the two-party preferred vote at the 2016 election.
Mr Hassell finished in third place in the primary vote in 2016 and said he only had six weeks to campaign and was unable to do the second biggest electorate in Australia ‘justice’.
The candidate said a major issue he would fight for in parliament was fixing the GST system which he said was designed to ‘pit the states against each other’.
“The problem with the two major parties is that if they say they’re going to change the system they’ll get massive backlash from the other states,” he said.
“The Nationals WA party has a very good chance of having the balance of power.
“We will say this time if we [hold the balance of power] that we won’t join the Coalition party room, we will join the National party room.
“We won’t vote on crucial legislation until the GST system is fixed.
“The system needs to be fixed so WA is treated fairly as was agreed at Federation.”
Mr Hassell said, unlike the Nationals, members of both major parties were expected to ‘tow the party line’ and said Mr Wilson had demonstrated this on the issue of the GST system.
“They cant stand up when there’s an issue affecting their electorate and say ‘no I’m not going to vote for that’ or else they get expelled,” he said
“The National can do that.
“In fact every single solitary member of the WA contingent of the federal government whether it be Labor or Liberal, has failed Western Australia except for Tony Crook.”
Mr Hassell said it was to early to ‘pinpoint’ particular issues where he would advocate for spending in Esperance.
“I would rather fix the system than throw money at a particular issue for a particular electorate to buy a vote,” he said.
Mr Hassell said when he last campaigned for the seat of O’Connor he saw a huge amount of mental health issues which was connected to drug use.
“We’ve got to seriously look at making the people who are using drugs treatable under mental health rather than under the criminal system, and anybody who deals we need to be much harsher on them,” he said.
“People doing time in jail for having a mental health issue doesn’t make sense.”
Mr Hassell said he would also work to improve communications and internet in O’Connor and said WA needs ‘more and more mining’.
“I think for the Esperance region fly in fly out is a big issue,” he said.
“There are a lot of people who are flying in from other states when people in places like Esperance are missing out on jobs.”
Mr Hassell said the Esperance Tanker Jetty was an ‘iconic’ attraction for the town.
“I’m a bit amazed that the state government can’t find the money to fix such an iconic thing,” he said.