PORTLAND businessman Pete Smith will stand as self-declared ‘independent Liberal’ at the South West Coast by-election, becoming the seventh contender to stand at the snap poll.
The corporate communications advocate said he wanted to tap into widespread frustration with the party political system and provide an alternative with liberal leanings.
Mr Smith said he has never been a Liberal Party member but has always voted for the Coalition.
“Something I hear time and time again is that people are frustrated with the way political parties keep their MPs under the thumb,” the 60-year-old said.
“The problem is that you elect someone who’s Liberal, National, Labor, they offer the world and then they under-deliver and under-achieve. The reason- because they are beholden to the party machine.
“It’s a common complaint, that people feel this area is being ignored. Well, I’m providing an opportunity for Liberal voters to support someone who shares their values without being controlled by the party machine.”
Originally from Sydney, Mr Smith’s interest in farming was stimulated more than four decades ago as a teenager at an agricultural high school.
He worked as a journalist after leaving school and served in the armed forces for most of the 1980s. Mr Smith has also worked as a corporate adviser for BlueScope Steel, the Australian Wheat Board and Australia Post among other organisations.
“I moved to Portland a few years ago and there is so much potential in this region when it comes to tourism, agriculture and business,” Mr Smith said. “What this area needs is a local champion in State Parliament, someone who is only accountable to the region and not to a political party.
“If you’re fair dinkum about your frustration with the Liberal Party or the Labor Party and you want something different, I want to provide that alternative.”
Mr Smith is one of seven publicly-declared candidates for the South West Coast by-election alongside Roma Britnell (Liberal Party), Thomas Campbell (The Greens), Swampy Marsh (independent), Michael McCluskey (independent), Michael Neoh (National Party) and Roy Reekie (independent).
Meanwhile, Cressy farmer Melinda Cass was selected on Friday as the Country Party candidate for the Polwarth by-election. Ms Cass is one of four declared candidates for the electorate alongside Joe Miles (Greens), David O’Brien (National Party) and Richard Riordan (Liberal Party).