The fog is clearing following the defeat of the Barnett government in West Australia
The fog is clearing following the defeat of the Barnett government in West Australia. Former navy lawyer Mark McGowan has taken residence as the 30th Premier of the black-swan state. While staffing arrangements are still fluid, it's possible to gain an understanding of the key players and critical issues.
It was time; plain and simple. Colin Barnett was the fifth longest serving West Australian Premier and with mounting government debt, disunity with the WA Nationals and high unemployment, the government looked tired and ragged. Voters sought a fresh approach, opening the way for McGowan and Labor.
Having staved off a leadership challenge in 2016, McGowan will likely keep a tight rein on all his horses during the first 100 days. As well as being Premier, McGowan has taken on critical roles in terms of procurement opportunities; Minister for Public Sector Management, State Development, Jobs and Trade.
Alannah MacTiernan will be another key Minister in this space, taking on the role of Regional Development, Agriculture and Food, and assisting the Premier with State Development, Jobs and Trade.
Tasked with tackling the $41 billion blow out in state debt will be new Treasurer, Ben Wyatt. Ben Wyatt is coincidently the nephew of Federal Liberal Minister, The Hon. Ken Wyatt, which must make discussions over Christmas lunch interesting.
The number one issue for the new Labor Government is how to cut government spending. This becomes pertinent for those doing business with government in WA. Premier McGowan has vowed to '''¦go through (the) budget and cut out any wasteful expenditure.' What may be 'wasteful expenditure' to the new government, could impact your client or organisation. For example potential cuts to fuel rebates; the scrapping of transport and infrastructure projects; business investment incentives wound back; perhaps even certain health programs curtailed.
The largest area of impact of the new Labor's government's policy direction will be on WA's mining industry.
The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME) campaigned against the WA Nationals proposed iron ore tax and were quick to welcome the new McGowan government: 'CME is pleased the Labor Government will not implement the iron ore mining tax as proposed by the WA Nationals and looks forward to working together on key policy issues affecting the sector.' Obviously the mining industry in WA will be keen to ensure Labor's budget restoration measures don't take the form of the Nationals iron ore tax under a new name.
The next few weeks will see staff arrangements for Minister finalised, which could have an impact on States where Labor is in opposition such as NSW and Federally. The attraction of working with a fresh new government rather than in opposition could see a brain drain of Labor staff from Eastern states.
There is a new focus for the West. There will be changes. There will be a need for new strategies.
The next 100 days will be an opportunity for practitioners to test the waters and see which way the current is flowing under Premier McGowan.
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