Defeated Grylls’ job hunt to keep family in Pilbara

Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News

The Pilbara hasn’t seen the last of the Grylls family, with the out-going Nationals WA leader keen to put his money where his mouth is despite conceding he has lost his seat in State Parliament.

Brendon Grylls has talked the talk in the past few years about how the previous government’s Pilbara Cities initiative had created communities families can call home.

With the Pilbara lost — he was 585 votes behind Labor on a two-party preferred basis on Tuesday afternoon — Mr Grylls is now set to test the success of the region-building projects he helped to create.

“I’ll have to find a job but I hope I can stay here,” he said.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


“The kids are well established in school and this is a fantastic community. Coming here has been good for our family regardless of political outcomes.”

The past five years haven’t been about buildings, plaques or spending money. It has been about making the Pilbara a desirable place to live, he said” I know I have always stayed true to what I believe in.”

VideoOutgoing Minister Joe Francis has made a scathing attack on the Liberal Party's bad campaign, broken promises and the leadership.

Mr Grylls joked people were more concerned about the local water polo team losing a quality player in his wife, Susan, than his own political future should his family leave town.

He congratulated his son, Tom, for his speech on Saturday night. Aside from accusing his father of stealing his fish and claiming them as his own, Tom was glowing of his dad’s achievements.

On his proudest achievements, Mr Grylls said making the dream of owning a home in the Pilbara a reality and hearing stories of people who had been nervous about moving to the “middle of nowhere” loving their new homes made his time worthwhile.

Pilbara Labor candidate Kevin Michel.
Camera IconPilbara Labor candidate Kevin Michel. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr.

Mr Grylls performed well in his home town of Karratha but lost ground to Labor in Hedland and was smashed in Newman, running a distant fourth behind the Liberals, Labor and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Mr Grylls had 27.54 per cent of the primary vote, 3.85 per cent behind Labor with 63.4 per cent of vote counted.

Labor candidate Kevin Michel has ridden the ups and downs of the pre-boom, boom and post-boom periods. He has watched the influx of high-vis workers come and go and seen the Pilbara Cities plan transform the region.

Can Labor and Mark McGowan keep their promises? Check out every pledge on our special Promise Tracker.

Mr Michel said seeing the frustrations of local contractors and suppliers, as well as tough times for his own business, were the driving forces behind his emotionally charged campaign.

“People are struggling and I find it so hard to understand why, given we are the richest region,” he said.

“I really enjoyed the campaign. I was actually able to lose a bit of weight in the process and it has given me a lot of ideas about what is going on in this region. I will fight for our people, I will make sure everyone is accountable for what is happening in this region, including myself.

“It’s our region, and our people. If we don’t look after ourselves who will?”

Running as a first-time candidate for a party on the nose was always going to be a hard ask for Mark Alchin. The Liberal candidate had attracted 14.86 per cent of the vote on Tuesday, down from 23.1 per cent in 2013.

Pilbara Liberal candidate Mark Alchin handing out how to vote cards.
Camera IconPilbara Liberal candidate Mark Alchin handing out how to vote cards. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr.

Mr Alchin will find some solace in the fact his home town of Newman put him first ahead of Labor.

He said he had enjoyed the campaign trail, crediting his team for creating a positive experience.

“Any candidate, when they put their hand up, they put businesses on hold or leave their work,” he said. “I owe a huge amount of gratitude to my wife and am looking forward to spending more time with my son Henry as well.”

Despite all the hype from One Nation about its chances of picking up the Pilbara seat, candidate David Archibald failed to live up to expectations.

Mr Archibald has polled below 10 per cent in Karratha and Port Hedland, but did pick up stronger support in Newman and Wickham.

VideoWatch what Mark McGowan promised WA during his first week as premier of the state.

The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party’s high-profile candidate Fiona White-Hartig was another who didn’t live up to her own lofty expectations.

Mrs White-Hartig romped in in her home town of Wickham and performed well in Karratha, but struggled to attract support elsewhere in the seat.

As of Tuesday, the Greens’ primary vote had fallen from 5 per cent in 2013 to 3.89 per cent.

Flux and the Micro Business Party attracted just a handful of votes each.

About a quarter of votes in the Pilbara electorate were cast early.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails