National MP Vince Catania quits state politics, triggering by-election in Western Australia

WA’s already weakened opposition received another blow, with veteran Nationals MP Vince Catania announcing his resignation from state politics.

Mr Catania is one of six opposition alliance MPs in the WA Lower House in which there are 59 seats in total.

His departure will trigger a by-election in the coming months, leaving open the possibility that his North West Central seat could be lost to Labor – further increasing the party’s huge majority.

Mr Catania narrowly retained the state’s largest seat in the last election, his margin dropping from 10.1% to just 1.7.

Mr Catania held a press conference outside parliament after announcing his political exit.(ABC News: James Carmody)

This means he won the seat by just 259 votes.

Catania wants to focus on his family

The Centre-North West MP said he was quitting politics because of the toll it was taking on his family – his wife Danielle and five teenagers.

WA Nationals MP Vince Catania smiles and holds Liberal cards explaining how to vote.
Mr Catania says it’s time for him to put his family first.(ABC News: Eliza Laschon)

“Having spent 17 years working in Western Australia’s largest constituency to the best of my ability, that means being away from home for six months and it’s not fair on the family who have suffered during that time” , did he declare. ABC.

“The kids will all be adults before we know it, so it’s definitely time for me to put my family first.

“It will be a shock to a few people, but people who know me know how difficult it is to be constantly absent.

“I think voters will understand that.”

Man standing in front of Carnarvon One Mile Pier
Mr. Catania narrowly retained the state’s largest seat in the last election,(ABC Pilbara: Laura Birch)

Mr Catania acknowledged a by-election would be difficult for Nationals, but said it would also be a test for the McGowan government, which he said had neglected health care and failed to tackle crime in the regions.

“It’s going to be a tough election no doubt, I’m sure Labor will throw everything in the North West (Centre) seat,” he said.

“It’s causing the National Liberal Alliance a bit of pain but it’s politics, and I’m sure everyone is well seasoned in the opposition, and they’re going to dust off their campaign strategies to try to keep headquarters.”

Feelings linger over Labor defection

Mr Catania served in the WA Parliament for over 17 years after beginning his political career as a Labor MLC in the mining and pastoral region.

He resigned in 2009, defecting to the National Party.

At the time, he said he was leaving the Labor Party because he was tired of it ignoring the needs of the regional WA.

A tight head and shoulders shot of a young Vince Catania.
Mr Catania, pictured in 2005, starting his political career as a Labor MP.(ABC News)

His decision sparked the wrath of then Labor leader Eric Ripper, who did not mince words when reacting to Mr Catania’s decision.

“He behaved like an immature, petulant young man with a short-term fix, an easy ride in politics and didn’t have the ticker to defend a marginal seat,” Mr Ripper said at the time. .

“What he did was betray the people of the North West, those people voted for a Labor MP.”

Washington State Education Minister Sue Ellery
Sue Ellery says she is not sorry to hear of Mr Catania’s retirement from politics.(ABC News: James Carmody)

Education Minister Sue Ellery today indicated that Labor’s feelings about Mr Catania’s desertion still run deep.

“He has a habit of leaving parties when it’s the worst time to leave parties, this is the second time he’s done this,” she said.

“I’m quite happy that Vince Catania is no longer an MP.”

Failed candidacy for assistant director

In 2019, Mr Catania was behind a failed bid to remove then-Nationals deputy leader Jacqui Boydell.

The challenge was spoiled when party leader Mia Davies individually called out national MPs, threatening to quit if the dumping motion was moved.

New WA National Party leaders Mia Davies and Jacqui Boydell.
In 2019, Mr Catania tried to impeach Nationals deputy leader Jacqui Boydell (right) but was thwarted by leader Mia Davies (left).(ABC News: Andrew O’Connor)

Since the last state election, he has served as the Opposition Critic for Tourism, Trade, Indigenous Affairs and Government Accountability.

Her father, Nick Catania, was Labor MP for the Balcatta seat between 1989 and 1996.

Mr Catania said it had been an “honor and a privilege” to serve his electorate and that he had been particularly affected by the many devastating natural disasters including floods, cyclones and bushfires which had produced during this period.

“Those moments will stay with me forever,” he said.

He said he had “given my best and worked hard to contribute significantly to the growth and development of the regions”.

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