#SnapPerth 2016: How Michael Sutherland’s desire for a simpler life led him to WA

Michael Sutherland MLA.
Michael Sutherland MLA.

IT is nearly 30 years since Mt Lawley MLA Michael Sutherland made the decision to call Perth home.

It was a desire to escape the sprawling metropolis of Johannesburg, and the toxicity of apartheid, that prompted him to settle Australia.

“I wanted to get away from all the nonsense and have a change of atmosphere,” Mr Sutherland said.

“Australia fitted the bill.”

After a year spent in Sydney, he touched down Perth aged 33 and immediately liked what he saw.

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“When I came here in the ‘80s on holiday it was a very small, sort of boutique city,” he said.

“Coming from a big metropolis like Johannesburg I thought I wouldn’t mind living in a smaller place, so that was one of the main attractions for me.

“Of course in those days the cost of living was a lot cheaper.

“It was a very modern city, good facilities … it was just a very pleasant place to be.”

Mr Sutherland began working as a solicitor before making the decision to try his hand in local government.

“It was just by sheer chance that one of our clients when I was a solicitor was putting a team together to stand for Perth City Council in 1995,” he said.

“I stood for Perth, and I got in, and that’s how it all started.”

After entering state politics, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 2008 and is now the speaker of the house.

Speaking to Community Newspaper Group as part of our #SnapPerth campaign, Mr Sutherland sung the praises of the Swan River, near Joel Terrace in Mt Lawley, when it comes to taking a great photo.

“Another favourite of mine is the Bayswater area of the River, down at Bardon Park, and the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary,” he said.

Mr Sutherland, who arrived in Australia counting a tennis racquet among his few wordly possessions, is still an active league player at Mt Lawley Tennis Club

“I win more than I lose, so I keep playing,” he said.

It’s a sound motto for someone in the cut and thrust of state politics.