Geraldton’s new MP Lara Dalton proud of new era as she attends first Labor caucus meeting

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Lara Dalton, left of Premier, and Sandra Carr, far left second row, with Mark McGowan and other newly elected Labor MPs outside Parliament.
Camera IconLara Dalton, left of Premier, and Sandra Carr, far left second row, with Mark McGowan and other newly elected Labor MPs outside Parliament. Credit: The West Australian, Kelsey Reid

Lara Dalton felt a surge of pride during her first caucus meeting this week for being part of two record-breaking changing-of-the-guard moments — as one of an unprecedented 75 Labor MPs elected and being among a gender-balanced Parliament.

The first woman elected as the member for Geraldton said “it could only be a good thing” that WA Parliament would finally have gender parity because of Labor’s landslide victory.

The caucus meeting on Wednesday — which had to be held in the parliamentary dining room because the usual caucus room could not hold everyone — was told 51 per cent of those with a seat at the table were women.

As part of the “class of 2021”, Ms Dalton was one of 29 new MPs pictured with Premier Mark McGowan on the steps of Parliament House — 20 of whom were women. Among them was Geraldton schoolteacher Sandra Carr, who clinched an unlikely spot as No.3 on Labor’s Agricultural Region ticket.

“It’s a really great feeling and there are so many regional women as well,” Ms Dalton said. “It was a very proud moment ... it changes the culture, doesn’t it? We see workplaces that are predominantly women obviously don’t have the culture we’ve been reading about and listening to the last couple of weeks (with Federal Parliament).

“There are women in the Nats and Libs too, and such a diverse range of women of different races, ages, demographics, experiences.

“Women have got a lot to offer the House, the Parliament and the people of WA.”

Lara Dalton among the sea of faces of elected Labor MPs in the overflowing caucus meeting.
Camera IconLara Dalton among the sea of faces of elected Labor MPs in the overflowing caucus meeting. Credit: The West Australian, Kelsey Reid

Ms Dalton said her win on Saturday felt real when she was listening to Mr McGowan address his troops. She said it was nice the Premier and experienced MPs acknowledged this was her second go at winning the Geraldton seat and she had worked hard after falling short in 2017.

Ms Dalton said Mr McGowan stressed to everyone in the room that the “real work starts now”.

“Mark really hammered that home to all of us: make this a good experience, make this a happy time because we are really lucky to be here, and even though we’ve done so well, no seat is safe. And we demonstrated that by the win,” she said. “So we can’t be resting on our laurels, we’ve got a lot of work to do, and I want to make sure that people in Geraldton know that I’m going to work really hard and that I’ll be out in the community as much as I can.”

Mark McGowan walks into a standing ovation at Parliament House as Labor holds its first caucus meeting of the new McGowan Government.
Camera IconMark McGowan walks into a standing ovation at Parliament House as Labor holds its first caucus meeting of the new McGowan Government. Credit: The West Australian, Kelsey Reid

After receiving hundreds of congratulatory messages since her win on Saturday, Ms Dalton said her new reality had sunk in and she was working out the administrative logistics of where she would set up her office and filling two positions on her team.

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