Nominee: Stirling’s federal Liberal candidate “best on the day”

Stirling-elect Vince Connelly with wife Peta and children Tyler (15), Noah (13) and Tiggy (16).
Stirling-elect Vince Connelly with wife Peta and children Tyler (15), Noah (13) and Tiggy (16).

LIBERAL Party members selected the only male candidate to run for the Federal seat of Stirling but contender Michelle Sutherland says he was the best on the day.

Scarborough army veteran Vince Connelly beat four women for pre-selection in the seat following Stirling MHR Michael Keenan’s resignation, despite Mr Keenan wanting a female candidate.

Mrs Sutherland, a City of Bayswater councillor and high school teacher, said she believed Mr Connelly was the best candidate on the day.

“I think it was always going to be close,” she said.

The WA Liberal Women’s Council president believed she had enough experience for the role and knew the area, and was keen to go into “bat for WA a bit more” in Canberra.

“When you’re at the coalface in local government you see the impact State and Federal members have,” she said.

Mrs Sutherland has experienced challenges as a woman in politics, with many people referring to her as former Mt Lawley MLA Michael Sutherland’s wife and believed she had chosen a career over family.

But she said people now realised you could “have both” and encouraged more women, particularly younger women, to become involved.

“If you’ve got a passion for local community then politics is very good,” she said.

Michelle Sutherland. Photo: Paul McGovern

Despite Mr Keenan’s preference for a female nominee, he said Mr Connelly was an “exceptional candidate”.

“He served his country in the military and went on to have a successful career in the private sector, but now wants to serve his country again as the Federal member for Stirling,” he said.

“Vince is a Stirling local and has strong ties to the community.”

Mr Connelly attended the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra and his military career included deployment to East Timor, where he was platoon commander of 30 soldiers.

He later worked for outgoing Curtin MHR Julie Bishop before turning to business and is a crisis management specialist at Woodside Energy.

He and his wife Peta have three teenage children.