18/11/2013 - 15:48

Grylls to hand over Nationals reins

18/11/2013 - 15:48

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Premier Colin Barnett won't guarantee the WA Nationals will retain the key regional development portfolio after Brendon Grylls confirmed he would step down from the Nationals' leadership and state cabinet in the coming weeks.

Premier Colin Barnett won't guarantee the WA Nationals will retain the key regional development portfolio after Brendon Grylls confirmed he would step down from the Nationals' leadership and state cabinet in the coming weeks.

Mr Grylls today confirmed he will step down as leader of the Nationals and as a cabinet minister, saying he believed it was the right time to hand over the reins of the party to a new leader.

"We have built the foundations of a sustainable regional Western Australia into the future and I am damn proud of that," Mr Grylls told reporters.

"However what happens in this life is you get to the point of realising when your time is coming to an end and where the opportunity is for the next generation of leaders to come forward."

His successor is expected to be Nationals deputy leader Terry Redman, who holds minsterial responsibility for training and workforce development, water and forestry.

The party is yet to formally decide who will take on the leadership but Mr Grylls today backed Mr Redman as a capable successor.

Mr Grylls says he plans to serve out his full term as member for Pilbara as a backbencher and intends to move there with his family.

He said he felt the time was right to step down now that he had ensured the survival of the Royalties for Regions program beyond the most recent state election.

Mr Barnett said he was surprised and disappointed by Mr Grylls' decision but understood his desire to step away from the pressures of the job, describing Mr Grylls as an enthusiastic, effective and loyal member of cabinet who made a great contribution to the state.

While confirming that the cabinet vacancy created by Mr Grylls' resignation would be filled by a Nationals MP under the terms of the alliance between the Liberal and National parties, Mr Barnett would not be drawn on Mr Grylls' desire to see the new Nationals leader retain the regional development portfolio.

"That's something to be determined," Mr Barnett told reporters.

"The portfolios will be something that I will determine along with the deputy Liberal leader and the leader of the Nationals party.

"We won't discuss it until such time as the Nationals party elects a new leader and elects a replacement minister."

Mr Grylls was elected to state parliament as the member for Merredin in 2001 and became leader of the Nationals in 2005.

He played a pivotal role as electoral kingmaker when the 2008 election delivered a hung parliament, with his negotiations with both sides of politics leading to the creation of the multi-billion dollar Royalties for Regions program.

More recently, he gave up his safe Wheatbelt seat to contest the historically Labor-held electorate of Pilbara at this year's state election in a bid to boost the Nationals' tally of seats.

The gamble paid off, with Mr Grylls claiming victory on the back of an 18 per cent swing.

Despite claiming prior to the election that Pilbara voters would be best served by a member of parliament with authority at the cabinet table, Mr Grylls said today he would be better placed to deliver for his constituents without the travel demands he faced as a minister.

Mr Grylls said his decision to step down was also influenced by a desire to spend more time with his young family.

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