WHILE the future of the Australian Parliament remains under a cloud of uncertainty, Ben Morton’s ascent from State Liberal Director to Federal Member for Tangney is guaranteed, after he secured the seat with 60 per cent of the vote.
Mr Morton, who drove a tenacious grass roots campaign, officially became the member-elect after a marathon eight weeks in the safe Liberal seat.
Ringing in his win at the South of Perth Yacht Club with around 300 supporters, Mr Morton’s wife Asta had to step in to read his thank you speech, after he lost his voice on the hustings, having spent the day visiting all polling booths within the electorate.
He said he had made a point however to thank outgoing member Dennis Jensen for his 12 years in Tangney.
“I want to thank Dennis Jensen for his 12 years in the seat… just because I ran for endorsement (and) was selected doesn’t mean we can’t thank Dennis for his 12 years of service,” he said.
“My voice did give way and my wife Asta was very supportive and finished my speech to my supporters.”
Mr Morton marked his commitment to Roe 8, and the Willetton Basketball Association (WBA) expansion among the reasons he was elected.
“It’s important to see here the community of Tangney have backed in Roe 8, they’ve backed in the tunnel to Fremantle… I’m very proud of the work I’ve done in relation to the (WBA),” he said.
“We weren’t able to make a commitment to that during the campaign because the council only recently made their decision and up until recently that project had not been on the radar federally whatsoever… while there might be a setback in terms of the National Stronger Regions Fund there are alternate sources of funding.”
Mr Morton said he was surprised to see the as-yet unknown state of the Parliament.
“I didn’t see it coming, I don’t think the Australian people did either… it looks like it will be a hung parliament but there is a chance the Liberal Party will form a majority government,” he said.
“Ultimately the election has been the choice of the people; I think the people would have preferred a strong majority government, that’s certainly been the view of the people of Tangney.”
Mr Morton attributed the ‘Mediscare’ campaign to the Labor swing.
“I don’t agree with the assertion the Liberal Party is about economic policies and the Labor Party is about social policies and over my time in parliament I hope to break that stereotype,” he said.
“We’ve seen some large swings to the Labor party in outer urban electorates where the Medicare scare campaign has scared people about their cost of living pressures…I think that might have been politically successful and paid a dividend but ultimately the government doesn’t provide jobs the private sector does and there needs to be a strong economy.”
Counting resumes tomorrow.
Jensen bows out with thanks
Dennis Jensen has thanked the Tangney electorate for his tenure as Member of Parliament after conceding the seat after 12 years.
He thanked, and congratulated Ben Morton who was endorsed by the Liberal party to stand in the seat.
“I want to thank my electorate, I tried my best at all times and it included me putting my career on the line which ultimately cost me my job (but) I retire knowing I did what was in the best interest of the electorate and the nation,” he said.
Dr Jensen said he had celebrated with supporters on Saturday night and was happy with receiving 12 per cent of the vote.
“I hoped I’d get more, but it does show I had a substantial level of personal support,” he said.
Dr Jensen said he was set to take some time off, and said he had no immediate intention to return to politics.
He said the election outcome was something he had predicted, citing previous comments highlighting worldwide anti-political sentiment such as the US elections and the Brexit vote.
“I kept talking about the potential for a hung parliament,” Dr Jensen said.
“The irony is if I won I could have fixed the WA GST issue (but) the thing that is clear is that political parties are more interested in power.”
Dr Jensen said Malcolm Turnbull’s “all talk, no action” was a factor in his inability to sway voters to elect a majority.
“I’d urge Malcolm to govern, it seems he wants to be Prime Minister but he doesn’t know how to do it.”
Predicting a Coalition government over Labor, Dr Jensen said the blaming of independents was an easy, and unproductive excuse. “Independents have been treated with contempt and disdain… they need to be respected, politicians are too party-focussed and they have to get real (the situation) is not the fault of independents,” he said.
Dr Jensen said the two party system had to adapt to the expectations of the electorate.
“What we have and what we had in 2010 will be increasingly common unless the parties start listening to the people,” he said.