11/09/2008 - 13:19

Bowler to vote with the Nationals

11/09/2008 - 13:19

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Western Australia's Nationals party has been handed more power in the outcome of the state election, with independent member for Kalgoorlie John Bowler announcing he will side with the party, potentially strengthening the Liberal claim to government.

Bowler to vote with the Nationals

Western Australia's Nationals party has been handed more power in the outcome of the state election, with independent member for Kalgoorlie John Bowler announcing he will side with the party, potentially strengthening the Liberal claim to government.

ABC radio reported that Mr Bowler has decided to vote with the Nationals in parliament, reportedly saying he was impressed with the party's campaign and that his objectives were similar to that of the Nationals.

Sources close to Mr Bowler said he sees an alliance with the Nationals as the best way of achieving his own push for a $30 million investment fund for the Goldfields. They also said he would provide the Nationals with the views of an experienced political operator.

The news effectively gives the Nationals five seats and is likely to end the chances of the Labor Party forming a minority government, especially given Kwinana's Carol Adams is viewed as likely to act in concert with Mr Bowler.

Political sources suggest Nationals members have been lobbying the state leadership heavily to favour an alliance with the Liberals.

In addition, counting today appears to have strengthened the Liberals hand. Liberal party sources said that its candidates had improved their leads in the key seats of Riverton and Wanneroo as well as narrowing the gap in Albany where the Labor candidate leads by just 20 votes.

The Nationals are due to announce a coalition decision on Sunday after the Labor and Liberal parties hand in submissions regarding power sharing arrangements tomorrow.

The decision is not expected until after 6pm when Nationals WA leader Brendon Grylls is expected to put his decision, backed by his party room, to the party's state council.


Below is the Nationals release:

Party leader Brendon Grylls has welcomed the decision by newly-elected Kalgoorlie independent John Bowler to throw his weight behind The Nationals WA.

"While John Bowler will not be joining the Nationals he intends to give us his vote and provide us with more leverage in our negotiations with both major parties," Mr Grylls said.

"Mr Bowler wants to ensure stable government in Western Australia and his support effectively gives us five seats in our power-sharing negotiations with both major parties.

"John gives us his support but will remain as a true independent, retaining the right to vote for what was best for his Kalgoorlie electorate."

Mr Grylls said The Nationals had campaigned on a balance of power and Royalties for Regions platform and Mr Bowler's support was an endorsement of the need to look after regional interests.

"We fully understand John's election list and we agree with him that there is nothing in it that cannot be achieved under the Nationals power-sharing arrangement regardless of which party we help form government," Mr Grylls said.

"John agrees with us that Balance of Power is the only way regional politicians can leverage a better deal for their electorate when they are outnumbered by Perth politicians.

"Country politicians, voting as a bloc in Parliament can ensure that regional infrastructure and services are not neglected in any of the 11 country seats and that's why we are enthusiastic about receiving John Bowler's voting support now," Mr Grylls said.

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