Hillarys candidates Rob Johnson and Peter Katsambanis near finale of bitter rivalry

Rob Johnson and Peter Katsambanis's rivalry for the Hillarys seat will end this weekend.
Rob Johnson and Peter Katsambanis's rivalry for the Hillarys seat will end this weekend.

THE bitter battle for Hillarys can only become sweet for one campaigner, while the rest will be left with a tart taste in their mouths – some tarter than others.

A particularly sour loss awaits one of the main contenders – Liberal candidate Peter Katsambanis and independent Rob Johnson.

It’s an intriguing tussle between two men who have made it quite clear they don’t like each other.

No matter which politician takes victory on Saturday, there will be change in the seat that hasn’t been seen in decades.

Mr Johnson has held the seat for 24 years, winning it in 1993 under its former name Whitford, which became Hillarys in 1996 after forming in 1977.

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But he won it as a Liberal and while he resentfully resigned from the party last year, it remains a Liberal seat.

The party has had a stranglehold on the office for 30 of its 40 years, with Labor’s Pam Beggs, who was Whitford MLA from 1983 to 1993, the only non-Liberal to have won it.

This Liberal bias and a healthy 16 per cent margin gives Mr Katsambanis firm favouritism to put a new face in the chair this weekend.

But with Mr Johnson having held the seat for so long, it raises the question – have Hillarys constituents been voting for the Liberals in recent elections or voting for Mr Johnson?

Betting markets had Mr Katsambanis at $1.35 and Mr Johnson at $4 yesterday.

Either way, change is coming to Hillarys – a new MLA for the first time in 24 years or a non-Liberal for just the second time in the seat’s 40-year history.

Here’s what the rivals had to say about their campaigns and why they’re the best choice for the seat.

What should voters keep in mind at the polling booth?

Mr Katsambanis: Hillarys residents have made it very clear to me that they are sick and tired of grandstanding politicians who have taken our area for granted for too long. They do not want a local member who has done a dirty deal with Labor and who will deliver a union-dominated Labor government that will increase power prices and introduce new taxes.

Mr Johnson: People are sick and tired of lies, broken promises and politics being taken over by a religious cult, which is what is happening in the northern suburbs and must be stopped. I am opposed to the sale of Western Power, I believe in safeguarding the benefits and payments to our seniors and pensioners and am committed to protecting our pristine coastline by stopping proposed high-rise developments.

How has your campaign been received by voters?

Mr Katsambanis: Local voters have responded very positively to my campaign as part of the Liberal team that will focus on much-needed local projects like easing congestion on the Mitchell Freeway, providing stamp duty concessions for down-sizing seniors and putting dangerous meth dealers in jail where they belong.

Mr Johnson: I have been overwhelmed, heartened and humbled by the level of support I have received from local voters. I can’t go to the bank, shops or service station without someone coming up to me and saying: “Good luck, Rob. I’m voting for you.” I’ve found it incredibly fulfilling to serve the Hillarys community, they are like my extended family.

Residents urged to comment on development

HILLARYS hopeful Peter Katsambanis says he has encouraged residents to have their say on proposed development at West Coast Drive, Sorrento.

“The only people who can determine the fate of the proposed development in Sorrento are the councillors of the City of Joondalup,” he said.

“No politician – State or Federal – can determine any planning application.

“I have engaged with local resident groups and encouraged every person who has an interest in the development to make their own views known through the council’s public consultation process.

“Almost every local who has contacted me has indicated that they want to see the current site redeveloped because it is an eyesore and detracts from the amenity of our local area.

“However, many people have expressed concerns about the height and intensity of the proposed development. Some have also expressed their concerns about parking and increased traffic flows.”