Olympian digs deep to notch up his marathon fifth term

Gareth ThomasAlbany Advertiser

Incumbent Labor MLA Peter Watson will retain the seat of Albany for a fifth-straight term with an increased swing towards the Olympian.

Mr Watson, 69, first won the seat in 2001 and if he sees out this coming term will become the equal longest sitting member for Albany, alongside Leonard Hill of the Country party who held the seat from 1936-56.

Speaking at the post-election party he hosted at his family home in Albany on Saturday night, Mr Watson dedicated his win to all of his supporters, campaign volunteers and family who he said he was immensely proud to serve.

Mr Watson said he was hopeful of being given a ministerial portfolio in the new Labor government but there were a lot of good people also in the running.

“I’ve spoken to Mark McGowan and put my hat in the ring as the speaker role and for sport and recreation, and he said he would look at those favourably and hopefully I will get one of those,” he said.

Mr Watson said this could very well be his final term in Parliament but he had not yet made any decision on his future.

“It’s hard to say, it depends on what position I get,” he said.

“Being in the Cabinet would mean more time in Perth and I’ve prided myself on being down here looking after my electorate a lot of the time. I still wake up every morning and love going to work, so as long as that is still there I will keep going.”

Labor experienced a positive swing in Albany, giving them about a 9 per cent buffer despite a concerted and visible campaign from both the Liberal and National candidates. The Nationals look set to finish with about 20 per cent of the vote, a 2 per cent swing away from the regional party compared with 2013 but with the Liberals’ suffering a double-digit swing against them the Nationals will finish second behind Labor.

Liberal candidate Greg Stocks said he was swimming against the tide but was happy with the campaign his team ran.

Mr Watson said he was disappointed to hear rumours he was suffering with prostate cancer being circulated throughout the election campaign.

He said he had started a health and fitness program six months out from the election in preparation for a tough campaign.

”I cut out some of the fatty foods and did a small weights regime everyday and lost a bit of weight,” he said.

“Then all these rumours started going around that I wasn’t well and at the start of the campaign one of the political parties was saying I had prostate cancer, so don’t vote for him.

”I did have prostate cancer more than 10 years ago but I’’m completely cleared of that.”

Mr Watson said he felt “tremendous” after losing some weight and definitely did not have cancer.

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