Court–McPharlin Ministry

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The Court–McPharlin Ministry was the 26th Ministry of the Government of Western Australia, and was led by Liberal Premier Sir Charles Court and his deputy, National Country Party leader Ray McPharlin. It succeeded the Tonkin ministry on 8 April 1974, following the defeat of the Labor government at the 1974 election nine days earlier. The Ministry collapsed when McPharlin led the National Country Party out of the Coalition on 20 May 1975, and was reconstituted on 5 June 1975 as the Court Ministry.


Prior to the election, the Country Party had tentatively merged with the Democratic Labor Party, going to the voters as the "National Alliance" which put forward a centrist platform—however, they lost both votes and seats in doing so, when compared with the two parties' performance at the 1971 election.[1]

In order to form a parliamentary majority, the National Country Party under its new leader, Ray McPharlin, agreed to form a coalition with the Liberals after the election, and negotiated three seats in the Ministry. However, relations between the two parties were not smooth—the reduced position of the party vis-a-vis the Liberals had led to public discussions that it needed an identity distinct from the Liberals in order to survive.

Ultimately, tensions over rural and education issues and, ultimately, milk quotas for dairy producers led to a split, and on 20 May 1975, National Country Party leader Ray McPharlin had led the party (and its three Ministers) out of the Coalition. In the negotiations which followed, which included, among others, Federal Country Party leader Doug Anthony and Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, McPharlin was replaced as leader by Dick Old and the Coalition was resumed on 31 May; however, Court insisted he was too inexperienced to be Deputy Premier, and from this point until the Liberals' defeat in 1983, while the Coalition was maintained between the two parties, the Liberal Party got to name both leading positions in the Ministry.[2]

The Ministry[edit]

On 8 April 1974, the Governor, Air Commodore Sir Hughie Edwards, constituted the Ministry. He designated 12 principal executive offices of the Government and appointed the following ministers to their positions, who served until the end of the Ministry on 5 June 1975.[3][4]

On 20 May 1975, the three Country members of the Ministry resigned. Four existing Ministers assumed the portfolios in an acting capacity while negotiations continued: Des O'Neil and Alan Ridge divided Ray McPharlin's duties, whilst Neil McNeill acted for Matt Stephens and Graham MacKinnon acted for Norm Baxter.[5]

The list below is ordered by decreasing seniority within the Cabinet, as indicated by the Government Gazette and the Hansard index. Blue entries indicate members of the Liberal Party, whilst green entries indicate members of the National Country Party. The members of the Ministry were:

Office Minister

Premier and Treasurer
Minister Co-ordinating Economic and Social Development

Sir Charles Court, OBE, Dip.Acctg.,

Deputy Premier
Minister for Agriculture

Ray McPharlin, MLA
(until 20 May 1975)

Minister for Works
Minister for Water Supplies
Minister for Housing
Deputy Premier (Acting, from 20 May 1975)

Des O'Neil, DipEd, MLA

Minister for Justice
Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council

(Acting, from 20 May 1975:)

Chief Secretary
Minister for Conservation and Environment
Minister for Fisheries and Wildlife
Neil McNeill, BSc (Agric), MLC

Minister for Transport
Minister for Police
Minister for Traffic
Minister for Traffic Safety (from 1 May 1974)

Ray O'Connor, MLA

Minister for Education
Minister for Cultural Affairs
Minister for Recreation

(Acting, from 20 May 1975:)

Minister for Health
Minister for Community Welfare
Graham MacKinnon, ED, JP, MLC

Chief Secretary
Minister for Conservation and Environment
Minister for Fisheries and Fauna

Matt Stephens, DipEd, MLA
(until 20 May 1975)

Minister for Labour and Industry
Minister for Consumer Affairs
Minister for Immigration
Minister for Tourism

Bill Grayden, MLA

Minister for Industrial Development
Minister for Mines
Minister for Electricity (from 1 May 1974)
Minister for Fuel and Energy

Andrew Mensaros, MLA

Minister for Local Government
Minister for Urban Development and Town Planning

Cyril Rushton, MLA

Minister for Lands
Minister for Forests
Minister for the North-West
Minister for Agriculture (Acting, from 20 May 1975)

Alan Ridge, MLA

Minister for Health
Minister for Community Welfare

Norm Baxter, MLC
(until 20 May 1975)


  1. ^ Hamilton, Barbara (August 1974). "Australian Political Chronicle: January–April 1974". Australian Journal of Politics and History. 20 (2): 256–259. ISSN 0004-9522. 
  2. ^ Hamilton, Barbara (December 1975). "Australian Political Chronicle: January–June 1975". Australian Journal of Politics and History. 21 (3): 122–123. ISSN 0004-9522. 
  3. ^ "No.30 (Special)". Western Australia Government Gazette. 8 April 1974. p. 1974:1271-1272. 
  4. ^ Hansard Index for 1974–1975, "Legislature of Western Australia"
  5. ^ "Premier's Department". Western Australia Government Gazette. 23 May 1975. p. 1975:1397. 
Preceded by
Tonkin Ministry
Court–McPharlin Ministry
Succeeded by
Court Ministry