Colin Barnett

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Honourable
Colin Barnett
MLA
Colin Barnett (formal) crop.jpg
29th Premier of Western Australia
Incumbent
Assumed office
23 September 2008
Governor Ken Michael
Malcolm McCusker
Preceded by Alan Carpenter
Treasurer of Western Australia
In office
27 April 2010 – 14 December 2010
Preceded by Troy Buswell
Succeeded by Christian Porter
In office
12 June 2012 – 7 July 2012
Preceded by Christian Porter
Succeeded by Troy Buswell
In office
10 March 2014 – 17 March 2014
Preceded by Troy Buswell
Succeeded by Mike Nahan
Leader of the Opposition of Western Australia
In office
26 February 2001 – 9 March 2005
Preceded by Richard Court
Succeeded by Matt Birney
In office
6 August 2008 – 23 September 2008
Preceded by Troy Buswell
Succeeded by Eric Ripper
Member of the Western Australian Parliament
for Cottesloe
Incumbent
Assumed office
11 August 1990
Preceded by Bill Hassell
Personal details
Born Colin James Barnett
(1950-07-15) 15 July 1950 (age 64)
Nedlands, Western Australia
Political party Liberal Party
Alma mater University of Western Australia
Profession Economist

Colin James Barnett (born 15 July 1950) is an Australian politician who is the 29th and current Premier of Western Australia in his role as leader of the Western Australian Division of the Liberal Party of Australia. He had previously served as the state's Leader of the Opposition and Treasurer, as well as holding various other portfolios in Western Australia's Cabinet.

Barnett was born in Nedlands, a suburb of Perth, the capital of Western Australia, and graduated from the University of Western Australia with an economics degree. Having lectured in economics at the Western Australian Institute of Technology and served as an executive director of the Western Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly for the seat of Cottesloe at a by-election in 1990. Barnett served as a minister in the Court–Cowan Ministry from 1993 until its defeat at the 2001 election, after which he was made leader of the Liberal Party, replacing the outgoing premier, Richard Court. He resigned as leader after the unsuccessful 2005 election, but regained the position prior to the 2008 election, where he was elected premier. Barnett was sworn into office on 23 September 2008 by Ken Michael, the Governor of Western Australia at the time. At the 2013 election Barnett and his government were re-elected to a second term.

Early life[edit]

Barnett was born in Nedlands, an inner western suburb of Perth, on 15 July 1950. He was educated at Nedlands Primary School and Hollywood Senior High School.[1] He began studying geology at the University of Western Australia, but switched to an economics course from which he graduated with an honours degree and later a masters degree. In 1973, he became a cadet research officer for the Australian Bureau of Statistics in Canberra, being promoted to senior research officer before returning to Perth in 1975 to become a lecturer in Economics at the Western Australian Institute of Technology (later renamed Curtin University of Technology).[2]

In 1981, he was seconded to the Confederation of Western Australian Industry, becoming the founding editor of their publication, Western Australian Economic Review. He was later appointed their chief economist, and served with them until 1985, when he became the executive director of the Western Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.[3]

Politics[edit]

Court government and Opposition Leader[edit]

In 1990, he was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly for the blue-ribbon Liberal seat of Cottesloe, and was immediately promoted to the Opposition front bench. In 1992 he was elected Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

After the 1993 state election which saw the Liberals take power under Richard Court, Barnett became Minister for Resources Development and Energy and later, Minister for Education and Minister for Tourism in the Court–Cowan Ministry. He was also the Leader of the House in the Legislative Assembly and remained deputy leader of the Liberal Party. He was generally regarded as a competent and successful minister, and was associated with a number of important resource development projects.[4]

The Court government was defeated at the 2001 election. Court had a somewhat frosty relationship with Barnett and wanted to keep him from becoming leader of the opposition. While Court was from the conservative wing of the state Liberal Party, Barnett is from the moderate wing. Court engineered a plan to have federal MP Julie Bishop succeed him instead. Under Court's plan, both he and Barnett would have resigned from the state legislature. Bishop would have resigned from federal parliament and handed her seat of Curtin, the safest Liberal seat in the Perth area, to Barnett. Bishop would have then run in either Barnett's seat of Cottesloe or Court's seat of Nedlands, both reckoned as comfortably safe Liberal seats, and Court would have handed the leadership of the state Liberal Party to Bishop.[5] When Barnett found out about the plan, he claimed to have "choked on his Weet-Bix" at what he described as "an act of treachery."[6] However, when Bishop rejected the plan, Court, finding himself in an untenable situation, resigned.[7] This left Barnett to take the leadership unopposed.

At the 2005 state election, Barnett proposed the construction of a canal from the rivers of the Kimberley Ranges in northern Western Australia to Perth to meet Perth's growing water supply problem. The proposal was costed by Barnett at A$2 billion, however it soon emerged that no feasibility study or detailed costings had been done.[8] Some experts put the cost as high as A$5 billion. The Prime Minister, John Howard, refused to commit federal funds to the project. He released the policy costings only a few days before the election, when a A$200 million error in the costings document was discovered.[9] When the Gallop government was returned with its majority intact, Barnett accepted responsibility for the defeat and resigned the Liberal leadership.[10] On 9 March 2005 Liberal MPs elected Matt Birney, the member for Kalgoorlie, as Barnett's successor.

Barnett spent the next two years on the backbench--the first time in his career he had not been either a minister or opposition frontbencher. In November 2007 announced that he would retire from politics at the next state election, at that stage due by May 2009.[11]

Premier[edit]

Barnett in 2012.

On 4 August 2008, Troy Buswell resigned as Opposition Leader and two days later Barnett was re-elected unopposed to the Liberal leadership despite the fact that he had previously announced his retirement and Deidre Willmott (who would subsequently be appointed as his Chief of Staff) [12] had been endorsed in his electorate. On 7 August 2008, Premier Alan Carpenter called an early election for 6 September 2008. Barnett led the Liberal Party to the election, which saw a significant swing away from the incumbent Labor Party, leading to a hung parliament. On 14 September 2008, the National Party agreed to support the Liberal Party as a minority government. As part of the deal, Nationals leader Brendon Grylls and two other Nationals accepted posts in Barnett's cabinet. However, the National ministers had only limited cabinet collective responsibility, unlike past Liberal-National coalitions in Western Australia (and at most levels in the rest of the country), and the Nationals reserved the right to vote against the government on issues that affected their electorates' interests. Additionally, Grylls was not appointed Deputy Premier, a post which went to Liberal deputy leader Dr Kim Hames.[13] Carpenter resigned rather than face certain defeat on the floor of the Assembly, and Barnett was sworn into office on 23 September 2008.

Barnett was the sole state premier opposed to Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's key Health reform policy deal at the April 2010 COAG meeting. Barnett at the time led the only Liberal State Government in Australia, while all others states were led by Labor Governments. The reasoning for Barnett's strong opposition towards the reform was because it would require the State Governments to forfeit a proportion of their GST revenue. The Rudd Government's proposal was that 30 per cent of the GST revenue pool was to be dedicated towards the Commonwealth's contribution for hospital services, which had a disproportionate impact on those States receiving a less than per capita share of the GST pool (for Western Australia, this would have resulted in an estimated 64 per cent of GST revenue being forfeit). Barnett had already been angered that Western Australia was given a decreased 7.1 percent amount of the GST revenue (lower than last year's revenue amount of 8.1 percent)[14] while Western Australia is a state that will be heavily relied upon for the nation's economic growth due to its booming resource sector. Western Australia therefore would be heavily dependent on GST revenue to fund major resource sector projects although they would not be supported by GST revenue, thus becoming extensive expenditure for the state.[15]

Barnett believed that if Western Australia had agreed to a proposition for the States to handover 30% of the GST revenue pool, the arrangement could eventually lead to the federal government being able to acquire 100% of the state's GST revenue. The reaction of Colin Barnett towards the health reform has been considered by political writer Peter van Onselen as a preservation of the states' rights.[16]

From 27 April 2010, Barnett held the Treasury Portfolio after the resignation of former Treasurer Troy Buswell. In a cabinet reshuffle he handed the portfolio to Christian Porter later that same year.[17] Barnett returned to the treasury portfolio when Christian Porter suddenly decided to pursue a career in federal politics and resigned immediately from all his state ministerial portfolios on 12 June 2012. Porter's resignation saw Barnett serve as an interim Treasurer until he was officially replaced by Troy Buswell the following month on 7 July.[18]

Barnett led the Liberals to victory in the 2013 state election, taking 31 seats on a swing of 8.8 percent. This was theoretically enough for the Liberals to govern alone, and marked only the second time that the main non-Labor party in Western Australia had won a majority in its own right since adopting the Liberal banner in 1944. However, Barnett said after the election that the coalition with the WA Nationals would be retained.[19] According to ABC election analyst Antony Green, Barnett would have been forced to keep the Nationals in his cabinet in any event. Green argued that the rural weighting of the Legislative Council makes it all but impossible for a Liberal premier in Western Australia to govern without National support.[20]

Controversial policies[edit]

In October 2004, Barnett led a campaign to raise the age of consent for homosexual acts from 16 to 18. This policy of recriminalisation was opposed by several major organisations, including Amnesty International, the World Health Organisation, and the Australian Medical Association, as well as all other parliamentary parties, including the Nationals.[21]

In October 2009, Barnett announced a series of new policies relating to drug legislation including a repeal of the Cannabis Control Act 2003.[22] The previous laws were formulated by Geoff Gallop's drug summit, taking input from experts such as academics, police, social workers, lawyers, medical professionals and members of the public.[23] Barnett has stated it is his intention to overturn these laws because of his beliefs and stated that the drug summit members made a mistake introducing them[24] and that cannabis was a "gateway drug".[25] To help with the enforcement of this new policy, Barnett also supported legislation to give police the power to search and seize property without any suspicion or belief that a crime has been committed.[26] A Liberal parliamentarian, Peter Abetz, voiced support for these laws in parliament by drawing reference to the work Adolf Hitler did to bring security to Nazi Germany.[27][28] Barnett said that Abetz was making a valid point.[29]

In June 2013, Barnett said that Western Australia would not sign up to the Gillard Government Gonski School Funding Reforms. Barnett said that he will not let the federal government govern schools.[30]

In December 2013, Barnett announced a controversial plan for great white sharks to be shot and disposed of at sea if they come within one kilometre of the coast of West Australia, while acknowledging broad dissent in the community.[31][32][33]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Carpenter, Alan: New western suburbs college opened, Government of Western Australia, 26 October 2001.
  2. ^ Cameron, Eoin: Behind the names on the ballot sheet, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 27 August 2008.
  3. ^ Who's Who in Australia 2007. North Melbourne: Crown Content Pty Ltd. 2007. p. 198. ISBN 1-74095-130-1. 0810-8226. 
  4. ^ Barrass, Tony: Burke and the boom give Barnett a shot, The Australian, 7 August 2008.
  5. ^ Price, Matt (21 February 2001). "Court plots MP trade with Howard". The Australian. p. 6. 
  6. ^ Southwell, Michael (22 February 2001). "News had Barnett choking on Weet-Bix". p. 7. 
  7. ^ Shanahan, Dennis (23 February 2001). "Divided Libs sink Court's MP swap". The Australian. p. 1. 
  8. ^ O'Donnell, Mick: WA super canal to cost more than $2 billion, The 7.30 Report (ABC), 3 February 2005.
  9. ^ Stanley, Warwick: How Colin Barnett has turned Liberal forturnes round, The Sunday Times, 4 September 2008.
  10. ^ Colin Barnett resigns as Opposition leader, AM (ABC Radio), 28 February 2005.
  11. ^ Barnett to quit politics, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 27 November 2007.
  12. ^ http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/special-features/deidre-willmott/story-e6frg1lu-1111117812850
  13. ^ Nationals hand WA election win to the Liberals, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 14 September 2008.
  14. ^ Angry Barnett lashes Rudd over GST cuts, 26 February 2010
  15. ^ O'Brien, Amanda. "COAG ended up like Labor meeting: Colin Barnett", The Australian, 22 April 2010.
  16. ^ van Onselen, Peter. "Barnett's prescription for keeping states' rights intact", The Australian, 21 April 2010.
  17. ^ Quinn, Russell: WA business happy with cabinet reshuffle, Perth Now, 14 December 2010.
  18. ^ Barrett, Jonathan: Buswell to be reinstated as WA treasurer, The Australian Financial Review, 28 June 2012.
  19. ^ David Weber (11 March 2013). "Counting resumes for WA election but won't change decisive Barnett victory". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
  20. ^ Green, Antony (2013-02-07). "2013 WA Election Preview". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 
  21. ^ "Western Australia Liberals Will Recriminalise Homosexuality". Glapn.org. Retrieved 2010-06-14. 
  22. ^ "Premier Colin Barnett to introduce tougher marijuana legislation | Perth Now". News.com.au. 11 October 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  23. ^ http://www.dao.health.wa.gov.au/Publications/tabid/99/DMXModule/427/Default.aspx?EntryId=41&Command=Core.Download
  24. ^ 11 August 2008 10:00PM (11 August 2008). "WA Liberals vow to crack down on cannabis | Perth Now". News.com.au. Retrieved 2010-06-14. 
  25. ^ "PM - WA Liberals want to reintroduce criminal sanctions for marijuana use". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 2010-06-14. 
  26. ^ 12 October 2009 12:00AM (12 October 2009). "Police empowered for West's drug war". The Australian. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  27. ^ "Hitler cited over stop and search laws - ABC Local - Australian Broadcasting Corporation". Abc.net.au. 11 November 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-14. 
  28. ^ http://westernpatriot.com.au/2009/11/peter-abetz-links-to-nazi-war-criminal-2942[dead link]
  29. ^ "ABC News". www.abc.net.au. Retrieved 2013-04-09. 
  30. ^ "Gonski education reform: Colin Barnett says WA won't sign on despite $920m incentive from PM". Abc.net.au. 12 June 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  31. ^ http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/premier-colin-barnett-defends-shark-killing-as-wa-bait-line-locations-revealed-20131227-2zyvf.html
  32. ^ http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/20503016/shark-bait-points-revealed/
  33. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-12-27/shark-drum-lines/5176480?section=wa

External links[edit]

Parliament of Western Australia
Preceded by
Bill Hassell
Member of Parliament
for Cottesloe

1990–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Richard Court
Troy Buswell
Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia (WA Division)
2001–2005
2008–present
Succeeded by
Matt Birney
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Court
Troy Buswell
Leader of the Opposition of Western Australia
2001–2005
2008
Succeeded by
Matt Birney
Eric Ripper
Preceded by
Alan Carpenter
Premier of Western Australia
2008–present
Incumbent