Helping Geraldton residents one of the highlights of his political career, says former MP Ian Blayney

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Barb and Ian Blayney are looking forward to the next chapter of their lives outside of politics.
Camera IconBarb and Ian Blayney are looking forward to the next chapter of their lives outside of politics. Credit: Phoebe Pin

Ian Blayney walks away as the Member for Geraldton knowing he did what was right by his constituents when it counted.

After being involved with farming for most of his life, Mr Blayney decided to do something different and throw his hat in the political ring at the 2008 State election.

He went on to win 58.5 per cent of the vote in the two-candidate preferred result, replacing Labor’s Shane Hill as Member for Geraldton.

Mr Blayney said it was “humbling” to be elected to Parliament, but he was surprised at how little on-the-job training he received.

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“At most other jobs you have a bit of an idea of training and career advancement and promotion and all that sort of stuff, but formally there was virtually none of that and you just had to learn on the job,” he said.

“Everything was at the whim of the leader...you could work diligently for years and not really get any chance at promotion and then other people would catch the eye of the leader and get quite rapid promotion.”

Ian Blayney celebrates victory in the 2013 State election.
Camera IconIan Blayney celebrates victory in the 2013 State election. Credit: Gavin Box/The Geraldton Guardian

Mr Blayney said seeing Karara Mining start to export iron ore through Geraldton and getting the commitment from the Government in 2017 to rebuild Geraldton Regional Hospital — even though the Liberals lost Government before they could implement their proposal — were some of his most satisfying moments.

During his second term Mr Blayney chaired Parliament’s Economics and Industry Standing Committee, which conducted an inquiry into the State’s freight rail network.

Against the advice of some of his colleagues, Mr Blayney said he made previously private lease documents available to the public.

“It was really unfair to the people who used the railway line in that lease that the changes were secret because there was no reason for them to be,” he said.

“I chose to make them public and I was told it wouldn’t do my career prospects much good, but it was the right thing to do... people had the right to know what was in that lease. I suppose that is something that I am proud of because I had the guts to do it.

“So many people in Parliament are just concerned about their careers and not rocking the boat and hoping to get promoted.”

Nationals MP Ian Blayney and brother-in-law Roger House at Geraldton Primary School on election day.
Camera IconNationals MP Ian Blayney and brother-in-law Roger House at Geraldton Primary School on election day. Credit: Geraldton Guardian, Phoebe Pin

Mr Blayney said he was faced with another challenge when then-Liberal leader Mike Nahan gave him the task of creating a new model for the Department of Agriculture.

“I came up with what I thought was a very good model, then when I left the Liberals and joined the Nationals, all that work was just put aside because no one was interested,” he said.

“It was one of the reasons I left the Liberals because I was so disappointed with (former WA Opposition leader) Liza Harvey’s attitude compared to Mike Nahan’s.

“I will always wonder what reception that agriculture policy would have gotten...I was so disappointed, I never actually fully wrote it up.”

Ian Blayney with WA Nationals leader Mia Davies.
Camera IconIan Blayney with WA Nationals leader Mia Davies. Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper/The Sunday Times, Justin Benson-Cooper

Mr Blayney’s other main regret was not spending more time with his kids.

“I wish I had spent more time with my kids … The twins are now 23 and my other son is 22,” he said. “In those earlier years, they like spending time with you and doing things, but so often I just wasn’t around.

“They said, ‘oh we had some good holidays Dad’ and I did try to take them all over the place.”

Mr Blayney plans to help out on friends’ farms until he decides on a new career, saying he remains passionate about helping local businesspeople succeed.

“I love looking at businesses and talking to business people to hear what they are doing,” he said.

“I really enjoy Geraldton because we have such a diverse economy with fisherman, miners and farmers…there was always someone with a problem somewhere.

“I loved trying to pick apart their problem and seeing if I could help them fix it.”

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