Port Hedland mayor confirmed as candidate

ALEX MASSEYNorth West Telegraph

Retiring Pilbara MP Tom Stephens is confident Kelly Howlett can cause a boilover and dethrone Brendon Grylls after the Port Hedland mayor was confirmed as Labor’s candidate last night.

Mr Stephens, who had a vote in the pre-selection ballot, said the Pilbara constituency would not tolerate Mr Grylls’ fly-in, fly-out candidacy.

Despite Ms Howlett’s pre-selection opponent Bob Neville having lived in the region for almost 30 more years than the Victoria-raised Mayor, the incumbent Mr Stephens said Labor was keen to put forth a “good Pilbara candidate”.

“I remain confident that Kelly, as a local person in the Pilbara, has the capacity to stay closely connected to the Pilbara people,” Mr Stephens said. “She will take up their issues in a robust way, and in-turn shape the policy and platform that the Labor Party presents at the next State election so that it reflects the ambitions, hopes and goals of the Pilbara people.”

Mr Stephens dismissed Ms Howlett’s history as a failed Greens candidate, saying her surprise decision to quit the Greens earlier this year and switch to Labor was commonplace in politics.

“Party politics is not determined at birth, people do have political views that attract them to parties in various ways at various times,” he said. “(Former Labor Premier) Geoff Gallop, for instance, was once a member for the Liberal Party but he went on to serve the Labor Party and the people of WA through the Labor Party. That’s the nature of politics.”

Mr Stephens said he would assist Ms Howlett’s campaign where necessary.

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