Brendon Grylls could one day lead the federal National Party, say sources.FORMER Western Australian Nationals leader Brendon Grylls could be weighing up a potential move to Canberra at the next federal election.
Nanjing Night Net

Mr Grylls was one of the chief architects of his party’s resurgence at the 2008 WA election using the balance of power to secure the $1 billion per year Royalties for Regions policy, after forming government with the WA Liberals.

He stepped down from the party leadership in late 2013 but has recently indicated to party colleagues he’s feeling reinvigorated, leading to his appointment this week as the party’s lower house whip.

Mr Grylls currently holds the State seat of Pilbara, which he won in 2013 after shifting from his Central Wheatbelt electorate. That switch resulted in a massive swing towards the Nationals to claim a large advantage in what was previously a safe Labor seat.

Mr Grylls has avoid media questioning about whether he will run at the next federal election in 2016 via the seat of Durack, currently held by first-term Liberal MP Melissa Price.

However, WA National Party leader Terry Redman told media he would support any move into federal politics by Mr Grylls.

He said Mr Grylls – who was party leader from 2005 to 2013 – had “a lot of talent and if he wants to make a move into Federal Parliament, then why not?”.

“I think Brendon would perform really well wherever he ran in regional WA – whether that be remaining in the seat of Pilbara or moving on to cover Durack, which covers the same area,” he told the ABC.

“He would have to make a judgement when the time comes but that’s up to Brendon.

“I’ve had broad discussions with all my team about where the future sits and those discussions will stay between me and them.”

Another party source said the question of potentially entering federal politics, via Durack, was posed to Mr Grylls at a recent party planning meeting.

“It’s not in his current thinking – but never say never,” the source said. “It’s always a consideration.”

The source also said recent research by the party indicated Mr Grylls would win if he ran in Durack or the nearby rural seat of O’Connor, which the Nationals surrendered to Liberal MP Rick Wilson at the last election, following first-term MP Tony Crook’s resignation.

“Our research says Brendon Grylls would win just about any seat you ran him in,” the source said.

“A lot of things are in favour of Brendon Grylls running for Durack. He’s had a year off from the leadership and he’s got that twinkle in his eye again.

“I hope he does do it because he could do big things in Canberra.

“Barnaby Joyce and a few other federal Nationals, who are eying off the federal leadership when Warren Truss steps down, would get quite nervous.”

Mr Crook told Fairfax Agricultural Media he knew nothing concrete about whether Mr Grylls would in fact be running for Durack in 2016 – but welcomed the potential move.

“Ultimately it’s up to Brendon; it would be his call to make and it would be something no doubt he’d need to discuss with his wife Susan and the rest of his family,” he said.

“But he’d be outstanding in Canberra and would certainly stand up for WA. Brendon would have been a fantastic ally for me if he was there in that last (hung) parliament, with his ability to broker outcomes and deliver deals.”

Mr Crook said there was little doubt Mr Grylls – who turns 42 this year – could also become the National Party’s federal leader in future, if he wanted.

“He was an outstanding leader of the WA Nationals and proved he can work in a Coalition but he’s also prepared to fight the fight which is critical for regional Australia,” he said.

“You need someone who’s prepared to really represent their electorate and I know Brendon Grylls would do that.

“My philosophy was always: electorate first, State second and we’ll mange the rest later.

“Brendon could certainly end up being leader of the Nationals in Canberra – he has the capacity – and that’s not being disrespectful either to the people who are already there doing the job well.”

Victorian Nationals MP Darren Chester said last week that Warren Truss had 100 per cent support of the party room “and will be leader of the Nationals for as long as he wants to be leader”.

Mr Crook said he was also considering contesting the seat of O’Connor again in future, possibly at the next election, or at some other stage in future.

“Circumstances change all the time,” he said.

“I said at the time of retiring I’d never go back federally but that was really more to do with the raw emotion of getting out.

“But I’ve had huge support from people asking me to recontest again, by virtue of the fact I was prepared to represent my electorate.”

Asked whether he could win O’Connor off the Liberals, Mr Crook said, “It was hard enough winning first time let alone a second time”.

“But if Brendon Grylls was to run in Durack people would be lucky to have him as their local member,” he said.

Mr Grylls was contacted for comment but did not respond before deadline.

Ms Price’s office was contacted by Fairfax Agricultural Media, with a spokesperson saying they were aware of speculation about a potential challenge from Mr Grylls but were not yet in a position to comment.

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