Ex-soldier fighting for Stirling

Vince Connelly, Liberal, Stirling

Liberal candidate Vince Connelly

Image courtesy WA Liberals

Liberal candidate Vince Connelly

Stirling’s new Liberal candidate is a man on a mission.

If successful on May 18, Vince Connelly will replace retiring Human Services Minister Michael Keenan, who has held the seat since 2004.

The 40-year-old has lived in and around the Stirling electorate for most of his life, choosing the area to raise his family, which includes his wife Peta and their three teenage children.

A man who hasn’t held prior political office, Mr Connelly said a series of events led him to get involved.

However, it was his mother who sparked his interest in grass roots politics. She was a local councillor and heavily invested in the removal of a toll road in Queensland, where Mr Connelly spent his childhood.

“It was actually my mother who first taught me the importance of strong, community based leadership,” said Mr Connelly.

“There was a state Labor government in Queensland at the time, who came to power and said that that there would be no tolls on a new motorway that had just been built. Then they came to power and put tolls on the motorway.”

Mr Connelly said while some people would just sit back and think it was unfortunate, or even protest, his mother led a round-the-clock movement to remove the tolls from the road.

She was successful, and more than 30 years on, no tolls have been put back to the road.

The Scarborough local said his path to politics involved a number of years serving Australia in the Army including roles in overseas military operations where Australia had committed resources in South-East Asia.

“What I saw firsthand was when the Australian Government made a commitment to the region, that can have a very real impact and a very positive one on the world stage,” said Mr Connelly.

He said his time in the military gave him an insight into how the political process can benefit people living outside the electorate.

Mr Connelly has also spent time as a staffer to former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

He said he was a passionate supporter of small business, of which there were more than 17,000 in Stirling alone. “Support to small businesses is something that I’m passionate about and across Australia there are 3.3 million small and medium businesses and they employ 7 million Australians, they really are the backbone of our economy,” Mr Connelly said.

“What I hear regularly is that small businesses here in Stirling really appreciate what the Coalition have done, with the government extending the instant asset write off and that means that the auto repair facility that I spoke to this morning, that Adrian who works there was telling me that he can use the instant asset write off to purchase four successive hydraulic hoists, to be able to get the vehicles up safer and work more effectively underneath them.”

Mr Connelly credited Sir Robert Menzies as one of his political icons, saying the “bringing together of the modern Liberal Party as he did, was the founding of a very strong, very principled party, particularly a party with the central principles of family and justice, which are the two that stick out for me”.

The electorate of Stirling has had four Liberal and four Labor members since the seat was created in 1955 and takes in the northern Perth, including most of the City of Stirling and some of City of Bayswater. The seat is currently held on a 6.1 per cent margin to the Liberal Party.