Nationals Leader Brendon Grylls was waiting on tenterhooks last night to find out if the gamble on his expansive mining levy would pay off.
Mr Grylls trailed Labor’s Kevin Michel in the seat of Pilbara on a two-party preferred vote with 47.81 per cent of the vote compared to 52.19. Mr Michel was slightly ahead with 31.84 per cent of the primary vote to Mr Grylls’ 27.823 per cent.
It represented a massive drop from the 36 per cent primary vote he won at the last election when he was considered rural Australia’s favourite son for orchestrating the Royalties for Regions program.
At 9pm last night he said it was too early to call the election.
“There is a swing against the government and this is a Labor seat from before, so some of that is coming back,” he said.
“We’ve got a policy that is very topical for this electorate.
“I believe it’s right but voters will choose and I’m happy to live or die by their verdict.”
Mr Grylls conceded his controversial bid to boost a mining levy for BHP and Rio Tinto by 1900 per cent was dead under a Labor Government, given it will not need the Nationals to govern.
Mr Grylls faced a ferocious, multi-million dollar campaign from the mining sector after he proposed boosting the special rental lease.
Flanked by two dozen supporters at Karratha’s Leisureplex, he was last night unrepentant about drastic policy, claiming voters would come to look at it more favourably in time.
“Mark McGowan has ruled it out, but he has a three and half billion budget deficit and he will have to tell mums and dads and small businesses and pensioners why he is putting all their fees and charges up but not that of the big miners,” he said.
“I don’t think you can put it back in the bottle,” he said.
“I think that come the next budget round plenty of people watching their fees and charges go up but why big mining companies are still paying the same amount they were charged in the 1960s.”
Mr Michel, who ran on a platform of “jobs, not mining taxes,” said it was too early to call the election at 9pm last night.