Farmer tops Liberal ticket

Cally DupeCountryman
Wickepin farmer Steve Martin.
Camera IconWickepin farmer Steve Martin. Credit: Cally Dupe/Countryman, Cally Dupe

Wickepin farmer Steve Martin is set to begin a long-wanted career in State politics after securing the No.1 spot on the WA Liberals’ Agricultural Region ticket.

WA Liberal Party agriculture spokesman Jim Chown tumbled down the Liberal pre-selection pecking order into an unwinnable spot on its Agricultural Region ticket for the Legislative Council at the party’s State council on February 22.

The Upper House member for the Agricultural Region lost his No.1 spot on the proposed ticket to Mr Martin.

Geraldton town planner Kathryn Jackson took out the second spot.

A third-generation farmer, Mr Martin is also a councillor on the Shire of Wickepin but intends to retire from the position next year.

“My family have been farming in Wickepin for three generations and we have a strong record of service to our local community,” he said.

“My father, grandfather and three uncles have all served on the Shire of Wickepin, a tradition I’m proud to continue.

“As a farmer and local government councillor I’ve got a pretty good idea about the issues affecting the region, but from now until the election I’ll be out listening to people across the Agricultural Region to understand what matters to them.”

Mr Martin said he had hit the ground running with Ms Jackson, attending the Wagin Woolorama and WAFarmers’ Annual Conference to talk to people about the “issues affecting them”.

“Our job is to make sure the WA Liberal Party listens,” he said.

Mr Martin said health was the party’s “highest priority”, sitting strongly against supporting local business to create jobs and build regional economies.

“The coronavirus outbreak is going to throw up considerable challenges for all Australians and regional WA will be seriously affected,” he said.

“When the threat from the virus abates, regional WA must be well positioned to recover quickly if we are to continue to be a key driver of the WA economy.”

Mr Martin said it was time for a united front in agriculture, with agriculture “under threat on a number of fronts”.

“Mark McGowan and Labor have repeatedly got it wrong in our regional communities,” he said.

He had also promised the Liberal Party would build a new, purpose-built Boyanup saleyards if elected last year.

It is not Mr Martin’s first time contesting for a spot on the Legislative Council after standing behind Mr Chown at the 2017 election.

At that time, Mr Martin was the WA Liberals’ No.2 candidate and missed out to Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MP Rick Mazza.

During pre-selection for the 2013 election, Mr Martin was bumped to third spot on the ticket in favour of Brian Ellis and Mr Chown.

The Liberals hope to pick up two of six Agricultural Region seats at the next election, after only securing one in 2017.

The region stretches from Northampton in the north, to Cranbrook in the south, along the coast to Esperance, and includes most of the Wheatbelt.

The current six Agricultural Region members include Mr Chown, The Nationals WA MLC Martin Aldridge, The Nationals WA MLC Colin de Grussa, Labor MLC Laurie Graham, Shooters Farmers Fishers MLC Rick Mazza and Labor MLC Darren West.

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