Time for Mark McGowan’s team to hit the ground running

Gareth Parker -, Sunday, 12 March 2017

These are Mark McGowan’s top 5 priorities for WA
Gary Adshead - Thursday, 16 March 2017
“When Norman Moore said ‘We knew we were going to lose a year ago’ and yet they signed those contracts just before an election, it showed how grossly irresponsible they were..”
“It was the wrong call. When I read the CCC report I couldn’t believe people would take gifts of that magnitude and then make decisions about companies that gave them those gifts.”

Premier-elect Mark McGowan outlined his top five priorities as he settled into his new Parliament House office yesterday.
He said activating his campaign centrepiece — the plan to create jobs — would be his first priority and then he wanted to make public the details of Barnett government projects he said were shrouded in secrecy.
Speaking ahead of a swearing-in ceremony for the new Cabinet this morning, Mr McGowan paused as an adviser delivered news that the seat of Joondalup had also fallen to Labor.
The all-conquering party now had 41 seats to the Liberals 12.
“Brilliant,” Mr McGowan beamed. “Is Nedlands coming into play? Our candidate in Nedlands had a 10 per cent swing.”

These are heady days for the 30th premier of WA, but he vowed to stay grounded.
“Here’s what Colin Barnett said to me after I lost the 2013 election,” Mr McGowan recalled.
“He said, ‘Mark, sometimes you have to lose one to win one’. I always remember him saying that. There’s truth in it. Unless you experience the pain of loss you don’t have the resilience and capacity to keep going. It toughens you up for the fight ahead. It was a good piece of advice.”
But that was the only advice he would need and when asked about his promise to rip up the Roe 8 construction contracts, Mr McGowan’s mood turned to anger.
“When Norman Moore said ‘We knew we were going to lose a year ago’ and yet they signed those contracts just before an election, it showed how grossly irresponsible they were,”
“Financially, environmentally. It showed a level of bloody-mindedness in the last government that should condemn them to Opposition for a number of terms.”
He remained confident that the financial cost of aborting the project would be about $30 million, or less.
Mr McGowan also bristled when shown a document drawn up by the City of Perth, which proved a witch-hunt was under way inside the troubled council over alleged communications with the media.
“The Liberal Party backed the council throughout this whole period,” he said.
“It was the wrong call. When I read the CCC report I couldn’t believe people would take gifts of that magnitude and then make decisions about companies that gave them those gifts.”
“There are some councillors who have acted decently and they are suffering for the actions of others.”
He rejected suggestions his first Cabinet, which includes 11 union-aligned MPs, was too union-heavy. He also denied “owing” unions from the party’s Left faction. In 2012, the Left’s United Voice forced Eric Ripper to surrender the leadership to Mr McGowan.
“I think some of the definitions out there of what it takes to be a union leader are pretty extravagant,” he said.
“We have four former military officers, we have lawyers, we have a range of people. I want to work well with all elements of the party, but I always want the party to remember that the first obligation is to the people of this State, not a particular group.”

Mark McGowan and his family in Rockingham.

While the result was widely tipped, no one — even in Mark McGowan’s inner circle — had any clue the margin would be so comprehensive.

The premier-elect will not visit the Governor for a swearing-in ceremony until late in the week, possibly Friday, but work has already begun on the transition of power, with Department of Premier and Cabinet briefings scheduled for today.

His thumping win means he will have unprecedented internal authority — which he is poised to use in shaping his team. McGowan ran a shadow cabinet of 21 but must trim that number to 17, while finding a home for his star recruit Alannah MacTiernan.

While cross-factional dealing traditionally dictates the make-up of Cabinet, sources close to the premier-elect say he will get the frontbench team he wants. It will not come to threats or fights. Service and loyalty will be recognised, and having eschewed vengeance after the abortive Stephen Smith challenge, the knives will not now be wielded gratuitously.

McGowan must be allowed to hand-pick his team, because the State’s future relies on it. The euphoria of victory will be replaced quickly by the reality and requirements of governance.

There will be no 100-day plan. McGowan will tell his shadow cabinet to get on with the job of delivering on the policies he articulated throughout his mistake-free campaign.

That means merging departments, cutting mandarins, poring over the Budget for savings, delivering Metronet and locally built trains, canning Roe 8, starting planning that new port, legislating a foreign property tax increase and everything else.

It’s a big job, and it starts today.

Gareth Parker presents 6PR’s Morning Show

Mark McGowan’s new Labor cabinet holds first meeting

Dylan Caporn –Monday, 20 March 2017

Mark McGowan has presided over his first cabinet meeting as Premier this morning with ministers expressing a keenness to get on with the job.

After being sworn in on Friday, the new Cabinet members received a range of briefings on matters under their portfolios.

First cabinet meeting of the new West Australian Labor Government.

On the way into the meeting, new Treasurer Ben Wyatt indicated the budget, which is usually handed down in May, would be released a later date this year.

The meeting comes ahead of a Liberal Party room meeting tomorrow morning, where Mike Nahan is expected to be endorsed as leader.

WA Labor MP Ben Wyatt Member for Victoria Park

Posted Thu at 4:16am

As the new treasurer, Ben Wyatt has a big job ahead of him.

ABC News: Andrew O'Connor

Mark McGowan sworn in as WA's 30th Premier

ABC 17th March 2017


PHOTO: Mr McGowan, with Governor Kerry Sanderson, says he is "fully aware" of his responsibilities. (Facebook: Mark McGowan)

RELATED STORY: Ben Wyatt making history as nation's first Aboriginal treasurer

RELATED STORY: Who are the key players in Mark McGowan's new government?

RELATED STORY: Nahan firms as new WA opposition leader


Mark McGowan has been officially sworn in as Western Australia's 30th Premier by State Governor Kerry Sanderson after

Labor's landslide victory in last Saturday's election.

Mr McGowan and his 16 ministers were sworn in at a ceremony at Government House this morning.

The new Premier described his elevation to the top job as very humbling and admitted to some nerves as he prepared to be sworn in.

"It is a very exciting and very humbling day for myself and my family," Mr McGowan said.

"For us it has been a long road to get there, but we are fully aware of the responsibility and obligations that are now on us."

Earlier, Colin Barnett visited Government House in its last official act as Premier, with the incoming cabinet arriving at the Governor's residence as he departed, bringing to a close eight-and-a-half years of Liberal-National alliance government.

Mr McGowan announced the distribution of portfolios yesterday, with most of his MPs continuing to work in the sector they focused on in opposition.

The key changes are Fran Logan picking up Emergency and Corrective Services, Alannah MacTiernan becoming Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development, Paul Papalia getting Racing and Gaming and Bill Johnston being allocated Housing.

Labor now holds 41 seats of the 59 in the Legislative Assembly, after claiming victory in Joondalup yesterday.

The only Lower House seat still in doubt is Kalgoorlie, which is expected to go to the Liberal candidate Kyran O'Donnell.

The Upper House outcome is less certain, although it is possible Labor will pick up 16 seats and only need the support of the Greens to pass legislation.

PHOTO: New Tourism Minister Paul Papalia was among Labor's team at Government House for the swearing in of the new Government. (ABC News)

New Premier Mark McGowan's team gets to work in WA

AAP, PerthNow - March 13, 2017

WA's new Labor premier Mark McGowan is promising to be "very, very friendly" to business to attract investment to rebuild the once boom state's struggling economy. Picture: Mogens Johanse

WA's new Labor premier Mark McGowan is promising to be "very, very friendly" to business to attract investment to rebuild the once boom state's struggling economy.

Western Australia now has the country's highest unemployment rate, faces a record deficit of $3.3 billion this year and is on track for a $41 billion debt in 2020.

Mr McGowan, who will have a team of at least 40 in the 59-seat parliament, has already confirmed the controversial Roe 8 freeway extension will be stopped, and has urged contractors to act now to mitigate losses.

And he's told the commonwealth he's expecting it to pay attention to how West Australians voted and redirect its billion dollar plus investment in that project into Labor's policies, such as Metronet rail.

View image on Twitter

Mark McGowan 


The work starts now.

1:58 PM - 11 Mar 2017 · Rockingham, Perth (WA)

Mr McGowan on Monday said his number one priority was restoring the budget and implementing his plan to diversify the state's economy.

He said the Liberal Barnett government "really did blow the books" during the economic good times, making it difficult for future governments.

"You can't turn it around overnight, there's no magic solution. That means some people will be unhappy," he told 6PR on Monday, referring to his plan to slash the public service.

His likely treasurer, Ben Wyatt, was also warning that the repair to the economy would be a long-term project and would not outline a timeline.

He said Labor would focus on cutting spending in the general government sector - including in the public service - where most of the debt was being generated.

Asset sales, as proposed by the Barnett government with the part-privatisation of Western Power, was not the answer to the problem, he said.

But pressure will be on Mr Wyatt, who's likely to hand down his first budget in August or September, to perform after he released a heavily criticised debt reduction plan during the campaign.

View image on Twitter

Mark McGowan 


Only WA Labor has a Plan for Jobs, and will make sure WA jobs go to Western Australians.#WAvotes #wapol

9:00 AM - 11 Mar 2017

The plan involved setting aside 50 per cent of iron ore royalties, but only after WA's GST share returned above 65 cents in the dollar and the price of iron ore reached $85 a tonne.

WA's GST return is now 30 cents, while iron ore is expected to drop to $50 a tonne by the end of the year.

Mr McGowan said WA needed to attract more opportunities and he would be encouraging that.

"I will be very, very friendly towards investment and business in WA," he said.

The new premier, who will likely be sworn in by Friday, said he's in charge of his government and won't be beholden to anyone, including unions, for his team's win.

He's having to juggle expectations about his new cabinet, which needs to be reduced to 17 from the current 21 Labor frontbenchers.

Former minister Alannah MacTiernan, who returned to state politics at the election, is expected to return to the ministry in an economic role at the expense of an existing frontbencher.

Mr McGowan and Mr Wyatt had briefings with Treasury and the department of Premier and Cabinet on Monday.

Mark McGowan's new WA Labor cabinet includes former shadow ministers

By Andrew O'Connor

Premier-elect Mark McGowan has revealed his 17-member ministry, with many former shadow ministers being rewarded with portfolios, including Roger Cook, who gets health, and Ben Wyatt as treasurer.

Mr McGowan said his new cabinet was "brimming with talent" and was "made up of people who are serious about government, serious about creating jobs and fixing the health system".

Here's a guide to some of the key players in the new ministry.

Ben Wyatt: treasurer           

PHOTO: As the new treasurer, Ben Wyatt has a big job ahead of him. (ABC News: Andrew O'Connor)

A graduate of the London School of Economics, the former lawyer and army officer led Labor's attacks on the Barnett government economic and financial management which delivered record debt and deficits, and lost the state's AAA credit rating.

As treasurer, he has responsibility for leading the McGowan government's budget repair effort.

With commodity prices still volatile and WA's GST share seemingly permanently depressed, Mr Wyatt faces a delicate balancing act as he tries to bankroll Labor's big ticket promises like Metronet while trying to bring the state budget back into surplus.

             John Quigley: Attorney-General for Western Australia

PHOTO: John Quigley becomes attorney-general, having held the shadow portfolio while in opposition.

A former high-profile lawyer for the police union, Mr Quigley has been one of Labor's key figures in opposition as shadow attorney-general, hammering the government over mandatory sentencing and campaigning for Labor policy initiatives like "no body, no parole" and the harshest penalties in Australia for methamphetamene traffickers.

As attorney-general, Mr Quigley will now have the task of implementing those policies.

Rita Saffioti: planning and transport

PHOTO: Rita Saffioti will have to ensure Metronet is delivered on time and on budget. (ABC News: Andrew O'Connor)

Ms Saffioti leveraged her experience as a public servant in the WA Treasury to scrutinise the deteriorating finances of the Barnett government.

A staffer under former premier Alan Carpenter, she entered Parliament in 2008 and has spent eight long years grinding away at the Barnett government from opposition.

She now has carriage of the critical portfolios of transport and planning, where she will have responsibility for delivering Labor's centrepiece infrastructure project, Metronet.

She will also have to oversee and keep on time and on budget the $2 billion Forrestfield Airport Link rail line.

Roger Cook: Western Australian Minister for Health

PHOTO: Deputy premier Roger Cook has been named health minister. (ABC News: Jacob Kagi )

As opposition health spokesman Roger Cook was relentless in his pursuit of the government over health issues from ambulance ramping to commissioning problems at Fiona Stanley Hospital and construction problems at the new $1.2 billion Perth Children's Hospital.

As health minister, Mr Cook will now have responsibility for the problems he spent so much time targeting.

The first major challenge in his portfolio will be getting the Perth Children's Hospital opened, with the commissioning delayed by 
continuing problems with lead in the hospital's water supply.

Paul Papalia: tourism

PHOTO: Paul Papalia takes on the tourism portfolio, having been a harsh critic of the way it was handled under the Barnett government. (ABC News)

The former Navy clearance diver and SAS soldier has focused on the government's management of prisons as corrective services spokesman.

He was highly criticial of the government's privatisation of prison services, arguing the cost-justification was never properly assessed.

He has also been tourism spokesman, repeatedly highlighting WA's relatively poor performance across a range of visitor measures.

As tourism minister, he'll now have the task of delivering on the McGowan government's promise of boosting tourism to help diversify the WA economy.

Michelle Roberts: Minister for Police for Western Australia

PHOTO: Veteran Labor MP Michelle Roberts is WA's new police minister. (ABC News: Andrew O'Connor)

Ms Roberts was a former cabinet minister in the Gallop and Carpenter governments and will bring her experience as police minister when she returns to the portfolio under premier Mark McGowan.

As opposition police spokeswoman, Ms Roberts has been highly critical of the Liberal's policing strategy and her opponent Liza Harvey.

She spent much of the past two years highlighting rising crime levels and problems with police commissioner Karl O'Callaghan's Frontline 2020 policing strategy.

But like the Liberals, Labor refused to agree to the police union's demand for another 1,000 officers.

Ben Wyatt making history as first Aboriginal treasurer in Australian state or federal government

By David Weber

Thu at 12:12pm

PHOTO: Federal Indigenous minister Ken Wyatt, with his nephew and first Indigenous treasurer Ben Wyatt.(ABC News: David Weber)

RELATED STORY: McGowan unveils Labor cabinet 'brimming with talent'

RELATED STORY: Ken Wyatt sworn in as first Indigenous minister

RELATED STORY: Wyatt becomes first Indigenous minister in 'signature moment' for Australia

MAP: Perth 6000

Ben Wyatt is making history as the first Aboriginal person
to be treasurer in a state or federal government in Australia,
as part of the incoming WA Labor administration.

He follows in the footsteps of his relative Ken Wyatt, the first Indigenous man to become a federal minister.

Ken Wyatt is Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health in the Turnbull Government.

He said he had mixed emotions on election night, March 11.

"Actually, it was devastating with the loss we had, and I was with John Day watching his figures come in," he said.

"The one good thing that's come out of this is Ben being elevated into government and becoming the first Indigenous Australian to be a treasurer anywhere within this nation.

"It's a great example of aspiration but also demonstration of capability and capacity to do a tough job."

But while the younger Wyatt is blazing a trail, he said doing a good job was his priority.

"From the moment I was elected and I imagine it was exactly the same for Ken, inevitably we're both finding ourselves in positions of firsts along the way, and certainly I've tried to ensure that I'm not just 'that Aboriginal person doing that job'," he said.

"I'm actually a person of, hopefully, capability, doing that job who happens to also have an Aboriginal background."

Family and cultural ties add to responsibility

Ben Wyatt said he grew up with the knowledge that Ken, his own father Cedric, and Brian Wyatt were all prominent public servants at a time when Aboriginal leadership was "more forceful".

Ben Wyatt describes Ken as his uncle, although Ken has pointed out that in western society they'd technically be cousins, as Ben's grandfather was Ken's cousin.

The elder Wyatt said their heritage brought a different set of expectations.

"One of the challenges that Ben and I have, is that we have three sets of constituencies.

"We not only have the people who elect us, we have our party and the party structures, but we have Indigenous Australians who come to us on a whole range of issues.

"In that sense you do get to take leadership roles in key areas, not only within the context of your obligations to your constituents but also in areas that makes a difference to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across this state and across the nation.

"And the expectations for us to succeed is far greater than anybody else, we are in a sense scrutinized with a great deal of consideration by many Australians."

Ken Wyatt said he often got comments about his and Ben's careers.

"People saying, 'You two are doing exceptionally well, you speak well, you're measured in your speaking, and you're not radical', but in a sense we are because we've stepped outside of the mould that people often saw Aboriginal people in, historically," he said.

"And when I worked with both my other cousins, Cedric and Brian, we were at the forefront of those fights and debates we used to have in the '60s and '70s in order to get to where we are today."

Achieving beyond Aboriginal affairs

Both Ken and Ben Wyatt said it was important for them to be achieving things outside of an Indigenous affairs portfolio, which is where Aboriginal politicians were often expected to work; but both were deeply committed to the principles of "closing the gap".

They have also said they wouldn't have been able to get to their positions without having had a good education, spurred on by positive teachers.

Ben said when he was in Laverton Primary School, he never imagined he would one day hold the purse strings of the entire State.

Ben Wyatt has described Aboriginal leadership as "inherently understated" with trying to build consensus.

Mr Wyatt said he would like to see more Indigenous people in leadership positions.

"To create a number of people so all the parties are able to draw on a bigger and determined skill set of Aboriginal people is what I'm keen to see and this is the issue; politics is not one for shrinking violets, you've got to be determined you've got to keep pushing and pushing," he said.

PHOTO: Ken Wyatt is the federal member for Hasluck, and Ben Wyatt the state member for Victoria Park. (ABC News: David Weber)

"I think you're seeing around the country now more and more Aboriginal people appearing in parliaments, and I'd now like to see more and more Aboriginal people appearing in those senior bureaucratic ranks in particular and also... senior corporate.

"That's still, I think, some big room to move where you're talking about your senior executives in corporate Australia."

Ken Wyatt said he would encourage any Indigenous person who was thinking about going into politics to pursue it.

"I am working with young people now across Australia who come and say to me, 'How did you start your journey, what did you have to do?', and I say to them, 'I don't care which party you're thinking of'," he said.

"I should say 'coalition', but I'm not going to, because I think that we've got to give people the choice of their belief to aspire to the party that they believe in.

"Ben and I have got an obligation in many senses to help them on that journey by giving them advice, being mentors, but being there for them when they make a decision that may cause them some grief in their aspiration and say: 'This is only one stumbling block, hop up and go again, because you have the ability to be in any chamber as an equal peer to any other member who's been elected'."

Topics: state-parliament, indigenous-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander, government-and-politics, perth-6000, canberra-2600

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