Nationals WA MP Peter Rundle calls for Libs and Nats to mend bridges ahead of predicted Labor landslide

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Tom ShanahanGreat Southern Herald
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Nationals Roe MP Peter Rundle
Camera IconNationals Roe MP Peter Rundle

Peter Rundle is calling for bridges to be mended between the Nationals WA and Liberal Party ahead of what is expected to be a landslide victory for Labor today.

Despite a surge of support for Labor across the State, Mr Rundle is expected to comfortably retain his Lower House seat of Roe for the Nationals WA.

“To be honest, I think we need better communication between us and the Liberals and I think we need to look certainly at how the Opposition and our party are structured at the end of today,” Mr Rundle said.

“Especially if we are a relatively small opposition — which hopefully we aren’t — but if we are it will be all about communication between the two parties.”

If Mr Rundle retains his seat and the Liberal Party defeat is as disastrous as predicted, he could pursue a greater role in State Parliament.

“Liberal has typically held all the shadow spokesperson positions,” he said.

“We would potentially look at a structure if we were to join forces to have enough portfolios spread out between the two parties.”

A Newspoll published yesterday suggested the Nationals WA could win more seats than the Liberals, effectively installing them as the new State Opposition.

Andrea and Peter Rundle outside a voting centre in Katanning
Camera IconAndrea and Peter Rundle outside a voting centre in Katanning

Mr Rundle said such a result would provide an incredible platform to expand the Nationals WA agenda.

“I would like to think that I would be one of the five or six Nationals MPs and if we did have that majority in opposition in the Lower House then I think it would be a great opportunity for us to showcase what the Nationals can do,” he said.

“If we did win opposition it would be great for the portfolio of the Nationals.”

Liberal Party chances in Roe are thin, with candidate David Dwyer facing an almost insurmountable challenge.

Mr Rundle won the seat handily in 2017 with 42.5 per cent of the primary vote, ahead of former Liberal government minister Graham Jacobs on 23.9 per cent.

Federal Liberal MP Rick Wilson admitted the Statewide political climate did not favour Mr Dwyer’s chances of defeating Mr Rundle.

O'connor MP Rick Wilson with Labor candidate Brad Willis and Roe MP Peter Rundle
Camera IconO'connor MP Rick Wilson with Labor candidate Brad Willis and Roe MP Peter Rundle

“I am here supporting David Dwyer. It is a pretty unrewarding task for him being a political candidate in a seat where he is not expected to win so the least I can do is be here to support him,” Mr Wilson said.

“It’s going to be a rebuilding phase, reconnect with our base and rebuild our brand structure and restart from the bottom up — that is the only way as we are a grassroots program.

“It is likely to be a tough day as a lot more people take Labor how-to-vote cards than in previous elections.”

Mr Rundle said he was focusing his campaign against Labor candidate Brad Willis, who is riding the wave of Premier Mark McGowan’s popularity in a bid to become the first ever Labor member for the region.

Mr Willis said he was confident he could take Mr Rundle down to the wire, predicting today’s result would be “very close.”

Blake and Brad Willis
Camera IconBlake and Brad Willis

“This is the year if we are going to do it, that is how I feel,” Mr Willis said.

“I think preferences will be the decider between Peter and myself.”

This is the second time Mr Willis has run for the seat of Roe, after a disappointing campaign in 2017 that garnered only 14% of the vote.

He said his work in the community on multiple projects and the overwhelming popularity of Mr McGowan would give him the best chance of winning in Roe.

“Last time, I felt I was in unknown territory, today it is all positive because this election I feel like I have people standing behind me,” he said.

Mr Willis said if Labor were unsuccessful, he would run again in four years’ time.

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