21/06/2005 - 22:00

Gallop, McGinty hold court

21/06/2005 - 22:00


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Geoff Gallop and Jim McGinty are the two dominant figures in the Labor governments that have held power since February 2001.

Gallop, McGinty hold court

Geoff Gallop and Jim McGinty are the two dominant figures in the Labor governments that have held power since February 2001.

By virtue of his position as premier, Dr Gallop is ranked as the most influential person in the Government, indeed the most influential in the state, and his re-election early this year has strengthened his authority.

Mr McGinty wanted to be premier, and spent three years as Opposition leader trying to win the top job, but stepped aside in 1996 when he realised Dr Gallop was a better electoral prospect.

He continues to be extremely influential, both as a prominent minister – health, attorney-general and electoral affairs – and as the dominant factional powerbroker in the Labor Party.

Mr McGinty heads the ‘left’ faction, which wields great power within the party in concert with the smaller ‘new right’ faction, headed by Police Minister and WA party president Michelle Roberts.

Dr Gallop has never been an active factional player and does not have his own factional power base.

His approach was illustrated by his response to last year’s damaging ‘branch stacking’ crisis, when instead of intervening directly to quickly resolve the crisis, he deferred to others in the party.

While critics saw this as a sign of weakness, it must be noted that Dr Gallop got the outcome he wanted, with all sitting members retaining their pre-selection.

Dr Gallop did display firm resolve immediately after the election, however, when he rebuffed the ‘old right’ faction, led by Senator Mark Bishop (who triggered the branch stacking crisis) and former premier Brian Burke.

The ‘old right’ wanted former unionist and long-serving MP Norm Marlborough – who did a lot of work during the Gallop Government’s first term developing policy responses to the skills crisis – to be given a ministerial position.

He was rejected by Dr Gallop, partly because of his factional alliance but mainly because of his ties to Mr Burke.

Another ‘old right’ member, Kate Doust, was also considered for a ministerial post but instead the spoils were divided among other groups.

The five new faces in the ministry were a mix of ‘left’ faction members, such as Fran Logan and Jon Ford, close Gallop supporters such as Mark McGowan and John Bowler and a ‘new right’ faction member in John D’Orazio.

With his increased authority, the challenge for Dr Gallop is to work out what he wants to achieve in his second term.

In contrast, Mr McGinty has successfully prosecuted a decisive reform agenda over the past four-and-a-half years.

As attorney-general he has introduced wide ranging social and legal reforms, and as electoral affairs minister he has pushed through one-vote one-value legislation, which represents the biggest change in this area in decades.

He is also overseeing the biggest shake-up of WA’s health system in many years.

The key economic portfolios are held by Alan Carpenter and Eric Ripper, who have been ranked as the next most important ministers in the Gallop Government.

Mr Carpenter is considered the rising star, having been transferred from education and training to the challenging state development and energy portfolios.

Both portfolios are new territory for Mr Carpenter, but he has leapt into them with great vigour, illustrated by his stance on two key issues.

He very quickly committed to the four-way break-up of Western Power and he has already bought into a public fight with BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto – two of the world’s biggest mining companies – over iron ore royalties.

His supporters say his forthright and candid approach is welcomed by business, while his critics say he is overly aggressive, even disrespectful, and needs to spend more time developing a deeper understanding of the policy issues.

Mr Carpenter’s performance over the next four years may determine whether he is still spoken of as a successor to Dr Gallop.

Mr Ripper lost the energy portfolio after the election, following a stream of electorally damaging problems with electricity supplies and energy reform.

However, as deputy premier and treasurer he remains powerful.

Michelle Roberts has been arguably the most accident-prone minister in the Gallop Government.

The most recent example was her handling of the ‘drink driving’ incident involving Opposition leader Matt Birney.

Instead of keeping the focus on Mr Birney’s maturity and judgement, Mrs Roberts became the focus of attention after she controversially disclosed the results of Mr Birney’s breathalyser test.

Mrs Roberts’ authority may have been dented but she still holds a key portfolio and continues to be influential in the Labor Party as state president and as a faction leader.

Alannah MacTiernan is influential by virtue of her ‘super portfolio’ of planning and infrastructure.

There was plenty of speculation after the election that she might be shifted sideways or that the portfolio might be split, but Dr Gallop chose to maintain the status quo.




•           Geoff Gallop


•           Jim McGinty

            Attorney-General, Health.

•           Alan Carpenter

            State Development, Energy.

•           Eric Ripper

            Deputy Premier, Treasurer.

•           Michelle Roberts

            Police Minister, party president.

•           Alannah MacTiernan

            Planning and Infrastructure.


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