Major change expected after next state election

11/06/2008 - 22:00


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If opinion polls are any guide, Labor is set to retain power at the next state election, and if that happens we can expect big changes inside the Carpenter government.

Major change expected after next state election

If opinion polls are any guide, Labor is set to retain power at the next state election, and if that happens we can expect big changes inside the Carpenter government.

The premier is expected to bring new faces into the ministry, to replace retiring ministers and provide new energy and renewal.

That process is likely to occur progressively, as new entrants to parliament serve their apprenticeship and as more senior ministers opt for retirement.

Agriculture Minister Kim Chance and Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Sheila McHale have both announced their intention to retire at the next election, due by February 2009 at the latest.

Premier Alan Carpenter told The Australian Financial Review this month that four or five other ministers will probably be going on their last tour of duty in the next term.

If that occurs, there will be plenty of ministerial openings for sitting backbenchers, and for some of the candidates aiming to enter parliament for the first time at the next state election.

Mr Carpenter is also expected to reshuffle his existing ministers.

If the premier has his ear to the business community, he is likely to bring a new minister into the core industry portfolio, for at least two reasons.

One is that responsibility for industry policy is currently spread across five ministers - the premier has trade, science and innovation, Eric Ripper has state development and Francis Logan has energy, resources, industry and enterprise.

In addition, Alannah MacTiernan oversees LandCorp, which is involved in the development of the Australian Marine Complex at Henderson, and Margaret Quirk has small business.

This is a formula for confusion and misunderstanding.

The second and probably more important reason is that Mr Logan is not considered an effective performer.

Education and Training Minister Mark McGowan, who is often spoken of as a potential future leader, is one person who could be swung into an industry portfolio to broaden his experience.

Two people widely tipped to join the ministry straight after the election, should Labor win, are Peel MLA Paul Papalia and Victoria Park MLA Ben Wyatt.

Mr Papalia, who served in the navy with Mr McGowan, got off to a flying start in politics when he won the Peel by-election in February 2007 with a swing in his favour.

Getting a swing to the governing party is hard in any by-election but especially so when the by-election was caused by the resignation of disgraced minister Norm Marlborough.

Soon after being elected, Mr Papalia was appointed inaugural chairman of the Defence Industry Skills Advisory Board, which was established to advise the training and education sector on the defence industry's skill requirements.

Mr Wyatt, the son of well-known Aboriginal campaigner Cedric Wyatt, entered parliament in a by-election in March 2006, in former premier Geoff Gallop's old seat.

The Wyatt family counts former state government minister and lobbyist Julian Grill among its close friends.

Despite Mr Grill and his business partner Brian Burke being black-banned by the premier, that is not expected to halt Mr Wyatt's career.

A big influx of new talent is expected to enter parliament after the next election, on both sides of politics.

The Liberals star recruit is current Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA policy director Diedre Willmott, who will stand for the safe Liberal seat of Cottesloe following the retirement of former leader, Colin Barnett.

Labor will have a raft of new candidates, many with the personal backing of the premier, who was heavily involved in the pre-selection process this year.

Prominent candidates include Mr Carpenter's chief of staff and long-serving economic adviser, Rita Saffioti, who was also a close adviser to former premier Geoff Gallop.

Labor's long-serving state secretary Bill Johnston, Channel Seven reporter Reece Whitby, and former journalist and lobbyist Karen Brown are also set to enter parliament after gaining pre-selection for safe Labor seats.

Some older union campaigners are set to enter the Legislative Council.

These include Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union state secretary Jock Ferguson, who has long been a major factional deal-maker in the party.

Other candidates for upper house positions include long-serving Australian Workers' Union boss Tim Daly and Helen Bullock, the wife of Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association state secretary Joe Bullock.

Mr Bullock, whose union is the major force in Labor's old right faction, and Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union state secretary Dave Kelly, whose union is a major force in the left faction, were key organisers of last month's pre-selections.


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