ANOTHER member of the WA Pastoralists and Graziers Association’s (PGA) small but determined team that drove the fierce campaign to lobby against the AWB single desk and deregulate the national wheat export market has joined federal parliament.
Former PGA grains policy director Slade Brockman was yesterday elected at the party’s state council meeting to fill the casual vacancy created by WA Liberal Senator Chris Back’s retirement last month.
Sources say the result was unambiguous with Mr Brockman securing 89 out of 135 votes in beating a field of candidates that included former members of the WA Liberal government who lost their seats at the March landslide election, like previous Agriculture Minister Mark Lewis.
Mr Back had declined to nominate a preferred candidate to be his replacement following the revelation of his exit from Canberra after eight years’ service, where he championed farming issues like overcoming gaps in agribusiness education.
But he did advocate for someone with rural and agricultural expertise to fill the vacancy, to ensure the WA Liberals maintained a strong focus on rural policy and constituents, in the face of escalating electoral pressure from the WA Nationals and One Nation.
On Twitter, WA federal Liberal MP Ian Goodenough said “Congrats to Slade Brockman, Liberal Senator-elect for WA. Great working with you & the team at agricultural shows & Liberal conferences”.
WA Liberal Senator Dean Smith also took to social media to pass on his best wishes to WA’s newest member of federal parliament.
“A great addition to our WA Senate team and another strong voice for regional WA and #GST reform,” he Tweeted.
Despite Mr Brockman’s capacity to meet Mr Back’s call for rural and agricultural credentials, and his economic expertise, sources inside the party expressed unrest at the lack of female presence in the list of nominated candidates.
Mr Brockman has recently been involved behind the scenes in the Australian Grains Champion campaign that recently sought unsuccessfully to try and corporatise WA’s farmer-owned grains giant CBH with a mooted share offer.
Prior to that, he was a long-serving staffer for Finance Minister and WA Liberal Senator and power-broker Mathias Cormann.
Mr Brockman worked as a budget and political adviser to Senator Cormann - post the 2013 election when the Coalition won office – serving various portfolio demands including; Agriculture; Infrastructure and Regional Development; Environment; Communications; Education; and Industry and Science.
Leading up to the 2013 election, in opposition, he was Senator Cormann’s chief of staff for over five years.
Mr Brockman was policy director at the PGA from 2005 to 2008 when the AWB wheat for weapons scandal was at its controversial peak with the Cole inquiry Royal Commission exposing grave flaws in the single desk monopoly system’s management which ultimately led to the Labor government liberalising the market in 2008.
Mr Brockman worked on that campaign with then PGA grains committee member and Katanning farmer Rick Wilson, who is now the Liberal MP for O’Connor.
That committee also included current WA Liberal Upper House member and former Dalwallinu farmer Jim Chown.
Mr Brockman also worked alongside Leon Bradley who passed away last December but was also a driving force in the deregulation campaign in believing growers should have the right to choose how they market their wheat, along with Calingiri farmer Gary McGill.
Mr Brockman also has provided extensive service for the WA Liberals in areas like; chairing the campaign to re-elect Mr Wilson in 2016; O’Connor Division President; and running fourth on the party’s Senate ticket at the 2013 election, behind David Johnston, Michaelia Cash and Linda Reynolds.
He was born on a family farm in Pemberton that he’s also managed and also has a first class honours degree in political history and bachelor of laws degree.