Monday, March 6, 2017
WA election: Meet the micro party candidates most likely to win seats
PHOTO: Wilson Tucker, Henry Heng, and John Watt are contesting the WA election. (ABC News: Laura Gartry)
An evangelical businessman, a Gen Y software developer and a retired public servant are the micro party candidates with the best chance of being elected to the WA Parliament under a preference deal.
It was initially believed that Pauline Hanson's One Nation would hold the balance of power in WA's Upper House after the state election on March 11.
But the plan devised by 'preference whisperer' Glenn Druery could deliver seats for up to five micro party candidates, creating a crossbench voting bloc the Government could need to negotiate with in order to progress legalisation.
Despite the fact they are all predicted to attract a low primary vote - Family First, the Daylight Saving Party and Fluoride Free appear to be the best placed to gain seats.
So who are these unlikely politicians?
PHOTO: Family First candidate for North Metropolitan region Henry Heng attracts lots of attention with his car poster. (ABC News: Laura Gartry)
Born in Singapore, conservative Christian Henry Heng, 61, owns a successful bottled water business in Perth's north.
Despite never setting foot inside WA's Parliament House, he is no stranger to elections, running in the last state election and three federal polls.
Mr Heng has a strong chance of being elected in the region, as the Liberal Party has preferenced him first, above One Nation.
He is a long-term member of the evangelical Grace City Church in Osborne Park, which he said was the main reason he chose to migrate to Perth 21 years ago.
Mr Heng's top priorities are job creation, housing affordability and stimulating the economy.
But it is his party's social policies that have attracted attention in the past, including its views on divorce, same-sex marriage and blended families.
Family First claims there are many detrimental factors associated with de facto living arrangements and divorce.
"Marriage appears to reduce the risk that children and adults will be either perpetrators or victims of crime.
"Children who live with their own two married parents enjoy better physical health, on average, than children in other family forms."
But when these claims were raised with Mr Heng, he said he did not support them.
Mr Heng said while he believed "strengthening the family unit is good for the children", he acknowledged divorce was inevitable when a relationship had broken down.
Mr Heng is advocating for a non-compulsory pre-marital course to be run as part of the education system in WA.
Mr Heng also believes climate change science has been exaggerated.
He supports the partial sale of Western Power and the development of the Roe 8 highway extension.
PHOTO: Wilson Tucker believes younger generations want daylight saving to be adopted in WA (ABC News: Laura Gartry)
Software development manager Wilson Tucker, 32, said the Liberal Government was out of touch with his generation and it was time to reignite the debate on daylight saving.
"A cultural shift has taken place in Perth ... we are trying to shake off that 'Wait Awhile' mantra and the nanny state agenda," he said.
"You have a cultural event like Fringe coming to Perth and everyone is getting on board and I think that the same applies to daylight saving.
"Their inability to revisit issues like daylight saving prompted me to target a fairly basic single issue and try and hold the Government accountable and really question them."
Only nine months since its inception, Mr Tucker is running the party, which has 1,200 members.
Mr Tucker said longer trading hours with the east coast would make a huge difference for WA businesses.
"The Queensland Government conducted a study and they found that there would be a $9-billion boost to their economy if they actually implemented daylight saving," he said.
"It also means more time with family, more time with friends or sport - just more time to do the things that make you happy."
Daylight saving was voted down in referendums in WA in 1975, 1984, 1992 and 2009.
The 2009 poll, which was preceded by a three-year trial of daylight saving in Western Australia, recorded the highest ever negative vote of all of the referendums - with 54 per cent voting against it.
Following the referendum, Premier Colin Barnett declared the issue was off the table for at least another 20 years.
The party is not advocating for another referendum but for the system to be legislated.
"I think it is time for West Australians to make up their own minds and revisit the issue for what is best for WA," Mr Tucker said.
PHOTO: Candidate John Watt wants fluoride, which prevents tooth decay, removed from the public water system.(ABC News: Laura Gartry)
John Watt, 71, is a retired public servant who is passionately against the use of fluoride in WA's water supply.
The WA Health Department, the Australian Medical Association and the Australian Dental Association all support water fluoridation as a safe way to protect teeth against decay and agree the evidence that it benefits public health is unequivocal.
But Mr Watt believes it is mass medication and can have harmful health effects.
Mr Watt has confirmed none of the candidates running for the party have a medical or dentistry background.
PHOTO: Fluoride Free party candidate John Watt has a reverse osmosis water filter in his house to remove fluoride. (ABC News: Laura Gartry)
President of the Australian Medical Association Michael Gannon said health fears around water fluoridation were unfounded.
Mr Gannon dismissed the opponents of fluoridation as misrepresenting the evidence.
Mr Watt has a reverse osmosis filter at his home to remove fluoride from his drinking water.
"I would like to see a health warning on all water utility bills that the water contains fluoride," he said.
"Then a health warning, if you're bottle feeding, do not use fluoridated water, or are pregnant. That doesn't need legislation that just needs an order."