Shire fears losing ‘voice’

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Waroona Shire place and community development coordinator Kelly Shipway and president Mike Walmsley call for art submissions for the Angels of Art project.
Camera IconWaroona Shire place and community development coordinator Kelly Shipway and president Mike Walmsley call for art submissions for the Angels of Art project.

A proposal to redistribute electoral boundaries that would dump Waroona from the Federal seat of Canning has been slammed by its Shire president.

The Australian Electoral Commission revealed this month it planned to place the Waroona Shire in the South West division of Forrest, as part of a reshuffle prompted by abolishing one of 16 current divisions in the State.

Unhappy with this proposed move, the council recently unanimously voted to write to the AEC to declare its opposition.

Waroona Shire president Mike Walmsley said the move would not be in the best interests of the shire as it would be competing for Federal funds against much larger players such as the City of Busselton and Shire of Augusta-Margaret River.

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“If we are grouped with these councils down there, I think it will be challenging for us to have our voice heard at the table,” Cr Walmsley, pictured, said. “We are an integral part of the Peel region, and we share a lot of the same objectives.

“We are members of the Peel Alliance, the Peel Development Commission and the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, among others.”

Cr Walmsley said the dual chief executive arrangement with the Shire of Murray and its linked resource-sharing arrangement could be affected by the proposed change.

“I know it’s about shifting population boundaries, but given that we are resource-sharing with Murray, we think we are best off staying in the Peel region,” he said.

Cr Walmsley believes the proposed boundaries were made on a “purely numbers basis”.

“I would have thought they would have looked at areas with more in common,” he said.

“If we get moved there is not much we can do about it. I just hope they take our comments on board.”

Brunswick born-and-bred Nola Marino has represented Forrest since 2007, becoming the first female Chief Government Whip in 2015, then earning a cabinet role as Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories after the 2019 election.

A spokesman for Mrs Marino said she would not comment on the proposed boundaries until a formal decision had been made.

Cr Walmsley said if the move went ahead, he was sure Mrs Marino would be a good operator.

“I’m sure we would have a good working relationship with Nola if it did happen, we just prefer to stay where we are,” he said.

Canning MHR Andrew Hastie said he would be sad to say goodbye to Waroona.

“Under the AEC’s proposed redistribution, I will no longer represent people living in the Shire of Waroona at the next election,” Mr Hastie said.

“It will be sad to say goodbye as their Federal representative, but I know Waroona will be in good hands being represented by Nola Marino, the Member for Forrest.”

Canning has been held by a Liberal candidate since 2001, and Forrest held by the Liberals since 1972.

“Nola is strong local member who is always ready to fight for regional WA. She has a deep understanding of agriculture, horticulture, mining, and the services and infrastructure regional WA needs.

“Whatever the final decision by the AEC, it is a privilege to represent the local communities in the Waroona Shire. Waroona is home to fine Australians, and it has been an honour working with them.”

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