THE 2025 state election will have two new candidates seeking to represent Perth's east from both parties for either house after two long serving parliamentarians announced they will not be running.
After seven years at the helm of the lower house seat of Kalamunda for Labor, Matthew Hughes has announced he is not seeking re-election in 2025.
Elected to the seat in 2017, Mr Hughes defeated Liberal MLA John Day with 52.5 per cent of the votes to Mr Day’s 47.5 per cent.
In 2021, Mr Hughes was re-elected amongst the Labor landslide with 62 per cent of the vote, attributing his success to his accessibility among constituents.
“I have given it a good go since 2017. I have bought the needs of the district squarely in front of the government with sound outcomes,” he said.
“It has been a privilege to represent the people of the district and to be their voice in the state government.”
Mr Hughes counts among his achievements protecting the Kalamunda Railway Heritage Trail, getting pedestrian crossings for Great Eastern Highway in Mundaring, building replacement buildings at Lesmurdie Primary School, the construction of the Jorgensen Park Community Centre, and major investments in John Forrest National Park improvements.
But it wasn’t a career without controversy, with Mr Hughes making headlines in 2021 over accusations of bullying from his staffers and from when he was principal of John Septimus Roe Anglican Community School.
Controversy also erupted in 2020 when Mr Hughes revealed information on Facebook which detailed two of the four members of the Parliament Joint Standing Committee on the Corruption and Crime Commission did not support the re-appointment of then commissioner John McKechnie.
This led to calls that Mr Hughes should resign by former WA Liberal leader Liza Harvey and Liberal south metropolitan region MLC Nick Goiran.
Mr Hughes denied the bullying allegations and said he has no regrets from his time in politics, and that he also has no plans for his retirement either.
“My wife and I have six adult children and 10 grandchildren and I am looking forward to spending more time with them,”
On a potential replacement, Mr Hughes said he did not know who it could be.
“There is a Labor party pre-selection process that will begin shortly,” he said.
“My hope and wish is that a local candidate emerges with a strong and long-standing connection to the hills.”
Premier Roger Cook called Mr Hughes a fantastic advocate for the community.
“Matthew’s been an important part of our Labor team since 2017, and his contribution will be missed – but he can be proud of the legacy he leaves,” he said.
Meanwhile East Metropolitan MLC Donna Faragher who has always advocated for the area – she was born at Swan District Hospital – is set to step away from politics in May 2025.
On a local level Mrs Faragher counts working successfully with the school community to put the pressure on for a rebuild of Governor Stirling Senior High School as one of her proudest achievements.
She was approached during her first term of Opposition by parents who went to her as a new member.
They told her the school was just not good enough for the students and teachers to learn in.
“I agreed and so with them I worked closely by advocating for them both inside parliament and outside of it until such time as a decision was made for that school to be rebuilt,’’ she said.
“I’m enormously proud to have played a part in what is now a magnificent school in the heart of our electorate.’’
She is also proud to have supported the Woodlupine Family Centre in Forrestfield when they thought that they would close.
“Obviously as a minister you get to do broader issues, you are able to put forward policies and ensure they are implemented.’’
When she was younger her plan was to become a teacher and a school psychologist but after working for former WA senator and federal minister Chris Ellison while studying for her masters of education an opportunity arose to put her name forward for preselection.
She was selected when she was 28-years-old and then became a member of Parliament at the age of 29 and was instrumental in establishing the office of Environmental Protection Agency.
“I’ve had the opportunity both to be a local member for a significant period of time, been a minister in government twice, an Environment and Youth minister then Planning and Disability Services minister.
It was a big challenge coming in as Environment minister and Youth in the first term of the Barnett government.
“I had just turned 33 – the youngest female minister in the state’s history and they were really important portfolios.
“The Environment can be a really contentious portfolio but I loved that portfolio – there’s different parts to it – there’s your conservation side and then you’ve got your regulatory environmental approval side and as I say it can be contentious.
“But I relished that and to this day some of the most important areas that I’ve made a contribution in in those couple of years as Environment minister.’’
She cited her advocacy for Governor Stirling SHS as an example of her belief that you can also do really good things in Opposition as well.
“You don’t just need to be a minister or in government to do good and in that first term that I was Disability Services I put forward a very comprehensive policy that was ultimately delivered by our government and I’m enormously proud of that policy I delivered.
“It was a real honour for me in our final term of government to be appointed Disability Services minister and it is an area that I continue to have a really strong interest in and will advocate for and as an example of where I will continue to work particularly in the area of early childhood development through my role as shadow minister for community services and early childhood.
“It’s a particular focus of mine and still on my-to-do list to ensure that we get the proper funding for child development services in this state.
“I will not rest until such time as we do get proper funding for a service that children need in this state and that they are waiting too long to access right now.’’ After she leaves Parliament she is going to take some time to decide her next move.
“But community is really important so I wouldn’t be surprised if you continue to see me working in the community services and early childhood space because they are areas I am particularly passionate about and where I think we can do good things.’’
She said as a member of the Opposition in the past few years she had sought to bring attention to the needs of children in WA in terms of a range of issues but particularly in relation to access to services whether it’s paediatric services, speech pathology or other allied health services.