Champion of the people

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on February 13, 2020

MINISTER for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan has reiterated she will not run for the Seat of Albany following current member Peter Watson’s announcement this week that he would retire from his position at the 2021 state election.

Frequently asked whether she would make a permanent sea change to her Albany abode during various press conferences, Ms MacTiernan told the Weekender it wasn’t for her.

“I absolutely love being in Albany but I think there are other ways for me to continue to fly the flag for regional WA,” she said.

“We are all going to miss Watto and his very special style of advocacy.

“He has been an extraordinary standard bearer for the town.”

By not re-contesting his seat next year, Mr Watson will miss out on the record for longest serving ML A for the Seat of Albany by just 20 days.

He was first elected to the position in 2001, knocking out Liberal politician Kevin Prince who held the seat for eight years.

He was reelected consecutively four times after that.

Mr Watson was appointed Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in 2017 after being Acting Speaker from March 2005 to August 2008 and again from November 2008 to January 2013.

The Labor MP said his career highlights included advocating for survivors of sexual abuse at St Andrew’s Hostel in Katanning, the development of Albany’s marina, entertainment centre and Anzac Peace Park, delivering a radiation oncology centre for Albany Health Campus and securing $15.2 million for Mt Lockyer Primary School’s major facelift.

“It has been a tremendous honour to have served the people of Albany since 2001,” Mr Watson said.

“I am incredibly proud that I have been able to change so many people’s lives for the better, and to play a part in a significant transformation of Albany over the past 20 years.”

Premier Mark McGowan congratulated Mr Watson for his service.

“Peter is one of WA’s most loved and recognised Members of Parliament and is highly respected, particularly in Albany,” he said.

“He has been truly embedded within the Albany community for the past 20 years and has advocated fiercely for his electorate.

“I thank Peter for his years of service to his electorate and Western Australia and wish him and his family well for the next chapter of his life.”

Mr Watson plans to travel with his partner Dianne and their dog Harry and spend more time with their grandchildren during his retirement.

He said his political successor should be someone who holds the same values as him, has strong ties to the community and would always put the people of Albany first.

“They will need to have a strong work ethic, empathy with people who are doing it tough, and be willing to fight for a cause no matter what the outcome,” he said.