By Sarah-Jane Aston
Six weeks after the troubled, former state Treasurer, Troy Buswell resigned his seat as the representative for Vasse, the by-election to find his successor is underway.
Six candidates, representing the Liberal Party, the Nationals, the Greens, two independents and a member of Australian Christians, are contesting the seat, which is widely regarded as safe Liberal territory.
The Liberal’s Libby Mettam has had strong support from the state party, with the Premier Colin Barnett assisting in the campaign over the last four weeks.
Ms Mettam acknowledged the challenges of being a new candidate who had never run before, as well as the prospect of a voter backlash against the party of the incumbent member during a by-election.
“It does represent a big challenge, I guess,” she said.
“I know we have worked really hard as a team and I feel I have been able to articulate my vision for the area.”
Ms Mettam said the priorities of her campaign had been to focus on supporting the large population growth within the Busselton-Dunsborough area as well as the provision of essential services.
“That’s about expanding police services in the area,” she said.
“They’re currently not 24-hours a day, seven days a week and that is what is required.
“Now it’s just down to the people and how they decide to vote.”
Green’s candidate Michael Baldock says his team has also put forward a strong campaign.
“Today the Liberals have put up “Don’t’ risk voting Greens” posters around the booths,” he said.
“When you’re the prime target, you know you’re doing something right.”
He added that while the other parties had campaigned on big-ticket projects, his own research had suggested promises, such as expanding Busselton airport, hadn’t resonated with the community.
“We’ve been concentrating on service,” he said.
He suggested while many claimed voters in the area favoured Liberals, in the past people had actually only been supporters of the troubled former MP, Troy Buswell.
“Troy grew up in the town [Busselton] and by being in the community, people knew him well,” he said.
“People in Busselton saw him as one of their own under attack.
“So at the last election they really got behind him, to defend him.”
He said now Mr Buswell had actually stepped down following months of controversy their votes weren’t guaranteed to the Liberals.
“They were voting to support Troy, now they’re looking around,” he said.
Mr Baldock said people should remember that today they aren’t changing a government but choosing a representative for the community.
“It’s about choosing a candidate that represents them and their needs.”
You can watch a short video, including extracts from the interview with Liberal candidate Libby Mettam below.