Alannah MacTiernan appears set for a cabinet position in Mark McGowan’s new government.

Union pressure on McGowan

Tuesday, 14 March, 2017 - 10:11

ANALYSIS: The union movement hasn’t wasted any time reminding Premier-elect Mark McGowan that it wants a share of the spoils, even before he has moved into his new West Perth office.

The secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, Chris Cain, was quick to remind Mr McGowan he wanted some ex-unionists in the cabinet, considering the key role he believes unions played in Labor’s sweeping victory in Saturday’s state election.

“We’ve delivered for them so it’s not too much to expect them to deliver for working-class people,” Mr Cain told the ABC.

There is plenty of evidence that unions made a substantial contribution to the election result. Union advertising against the Liberals’ privatisation plans, directed at the Western Power sale, covered television, radio and newspapers. And Labor’s jobs plan was heavily promoted.

In addition, unionists were thick on the ground in marginal seats during the campaign, as well as at polling booths on Saturday.

Former union officials tipped to be ministers include: Sue Ellery (education); Fran Logan (local jobs); Mick Murray (racing and gaming); Dave Kelly (water); and Simone McGurk (community services). Bill Johnston and Kate Doust, who have been shadow ministers for state development and energy, and industrial relations and commerce respectively, have been closely linked with the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association.

The union presence on the frontbench will be the greatest of any post World War II Labor cabinet. In fact the union presence was slight in Brian Burke’s team (1983-88), but greater in Geoff Gallop’s line up (2001-2006), with former Miscellaneous Workers’ Union secretary Jim McGinty playing a leading role.

Mr McGowan is finalising positions in his 17-member cabinet, which will include Alannah MacTiernan, possibly in the energy portfolio. But she won’t take up her new position in the Legislative Council until the terms of the current MLCs expire in mid May, so the new premier is likely to shoulder responsibility for that portfolio initially.

Mr McGowan wants to have his new team sworn in by Governor Kerry Sanderson on Friday.

Election promises the unions will want to see delivered early include appointing hundreds of extra education assistants (sacked during the Barnett years) and the package to revive manufacturing, including rail car construction.