Mark McGowan

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The Honourable
Mark McGowan
Mark McGowan headshot.jpg
30th Premier of Western Australia
Elections: 2013, 2017
Assumed office
17 March 2017
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor Kerry Sanderson
Deputy Roger Cook
Preceded by Colin Barnett
Leader of the Opposition in Western Australia
In office
23 January 2012 – 17 March 2017
Premier Colin Barnett
Deputy Roger Cook
Preceded by Eric Ripper
Succeeded by Mike Nahan
Leader of the Labor Party
in Western Australia
Assumed office
23 January 2012
Leader Roger Cook
Preceded by Eric Ripper
Member of the Legislative Assembly
of Western Australia
for Rockingham
Assumed office
14 December 1996
Preceded by Michael Barnett
Personal details
Born (1967-07-13) 13 July 1967 (age 49)
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
Political party Labor
Spouse(s) Sarah Miller
(m. 1993)
Children 3
Residence Rockingham, Western Australia, Australia
Education Coffs Harbour Senior College
Alma mater University of Queensland
Occupation Legal officer
(Royal Australian Navy)
Profession Lawyer
Military service
Allegiance Commonwealth of Australia
Service/branch Royal Australian Navy (1989–1996)
Royal Australian Naval Reserve (1996–present)
Years of service 1989–present
Rank Lieutenant
Unit HMAS Stirling
Awards Commendation for Brave Conduct

Mark McGowan (born 13 July 1967) is an Australian politician and the current Premier of Western Australia.

Born in Newcastle, McGowan was educated in country New South Wales before attending the University of Queensland. He subsequently worked as a legal officer for the Royal Australian Navy, serving at naval base HMAS Stirling, south of Perth. Remaining in Western Australia, McGowan served as a councillor at the City of Rockingham from 1994 until his election to the Legislative Assembly at the 1996 state election, representing the seat of Rockingham. After the 2005 election, he was elevated to the ministry, although he had served as a parliamentary secretary since the 2001 election. McGowan became leader of the Labor Party and opposition leader following Eric Ripper's resignation in January 2012, and led the party at its 2013 election defeat. Whilst in opposition, McGowan held several shadow portfolios in addition to his role as opposition leader. McGowan led Labor to a landslide win at the 2017 election, and was sworn in by Governor Kerry Sanderson on 17 March 2017 as the 30th premier of Western Australia.[1]

Early life and naval career[edit]

McGowan was born into a family of Irish descent in Newcastle and was educated at public schools in rural New South Wales, before obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1987 and a Bachelor of Laws in 1989 from the University of Queensland. He joined the Australian Labor Party in 1984.[2][dead link] In 1989, he joined the Navy and served at the naval base HMAS Stirling. In 1996, he was awarded a Commendation for Brave Conduct, for actions he took as a naval officer in 1995 in rescuing an unconscious driver from a burning car.[3]

Political career[edit]

In 1994, he was elected to the City of Rockingham as a councillor, and in 1995, he became deputy mayor. He was preselected to run for the seat of Rockingham at the 1996 state election following the retirement of long-serving MP Mike Barnett.

At the 2001 election, Labor defeated the previous LiberalNational government, and McGowan was appointed parliamentary secretary to the premier.[4] He also chaired the ANZAC Committee, the committee managing the State's 175th anniversary celebrations in 2004 and the Bali Memorial Steering Committee.[5] In January 2005, following the retirement of federal Labor leader Mark Latham, McGowan was criticised for not telling Premier Geoff Gallop before taking leave to travel to Sydney with Kim Beazley, who was seeking the position. Gallop ordered him to return to Perth.[6][dead link]

Following Labor's win at the 2005 election, Gallop reshuffled the ministry, giving McGowan the Tourism portfolio as well as Racing and Gaming, Youth, and Peel and the South West.[7] In February, following Gallop's retirement, McGowan became the Environment Minister while retaining Racing and Gaming but losing all others—notably Tourism to Sheila McHale, Youth to David Templeman and South West to Norm Marlborough.

McGowan introduced major liquor reforms including the introduction of small bars, created the Department of Environment and Conservation and provided approval for the Gorgon Project.[8][9][10]

On 13 December 2006, following Marlborough's departure from the Carpenter ministry and Ljiljanna Ravlich's troubled run in the Education portfolio, McGowan became Minister for Education and Training and for the South West. In the Education portfolio, he oversaw the replacement of outcomes-based education with syllabus (scope and sequence) documents, re-established traditional forms of marking and reporting and launched a renewed effort towards the attraction and retention of teachers.[11][12]

In April 2008 McGowan came under fire when he referred to an ex-Labor MP John D'Orazio as "the worst ethnic branch stacker in the history of Labor in WA".[13] McGowan later apologised to anyone who took offence to the remark.[14][dead link] McGowan was again in the media spotlight after it was revealed that he had dealings with Brian Burke during the 2005 state election. A copy of an email showed that he had consulted with Burke over fundraising.[15]

Following the defeat of the Labor Party at the 2008 state election and Carpenter's resignation as leader of the Labor Party, McGowan was one of several contenders to replace him. Ultimately, he did not contest, and Eric Ripper was elected unopposed; however, McGowan contested the deputy role, which he lost to newcomer Roger Cook in a 30–9 vote.[16] McGowan was awarded a place in the shadow ministry as shadow minister for State Development, Trade, Planning, Housing and Works and also managed opposition business in the Legislative Assembly.

Labor leader[edit]

McGowan speaking at a rally in 2014.

On 17 January 2012, Eric Ripper announced his resignation as state Labor leader. At a caucus meeting on 23 January, McGowan was elected unopposed as Ripper's successor.[17][18]

McGowan led Labor into the 2013 state election. Labor suffered a 5.4 percent two-party swing and a loss of five seats, including that of former leader Ripper. McGowan was not blamed for the loss, and stayed on as opposition leader.


Polling since the 2013 state election landslide consistently showed a large swing away from the third-term Barnett Liberal government, with the Newspoll conducted from October to December 2015 and released in January 2016, revealing that the government trailed the Labor opposition significantly, at 47–53 two-party—a double-digit two-party swing of more than 10 points since the 2013 election, with Labor's 33 percent primary vote increasing to a current 42 percent. Just prior to the 2013 election, Barnett was nominated Better Premier with a 21-point lead on 52 percent, with an approval rating of 51 percent and a disapproval rating of 36 percent. Since then, McGowan consistently led Barnett as Better Premier by several percent, with Barnett's approval rating consistently low.[19][20][21][22][23]


At the 2017 state election, McGowan led WA Labor to one of the most comprehensive victories on record at the state or territory level since Federation.[24] Labor went on to win 41 of the 59 seats available on 55.5 percent of the two-party vote and a 20-seat swing, unseating six members of Barnett's cabinet, including Nationals leader Brendon Grylls. Labor also unseated a seventh minister, who sat in the Legislative Council. Not only was this WA Labor's strongest performance ever in terms of both seat count and percentage of seats controlled,[25][26][27][28] but it is the largest majority government in Western Australian history.

McGowan's victory was due in large part to a massive swing in Perth. Labor had gone into the election holding 17 of the capital's 43 seats. However, according to the ABC's Antony Green, many of the Liberals in Perth's outer suburbs sat on inflated margins. Many of those seats fell to Labor on swings of over 10 points; overall, Labor took 34 seats in Perth on a 13.6-point swing.[26]

He was sworn in by the Governor and became the 30th premier of Western Australia on 17 March 2017.[1][29] Early in his premiership, McGowan promptly moved to limit the number of pathways for foreign workers to enter the state and re-committed to terminating the controversial Perth Freight Link highway project.[30][31]

Personal life[edit]

McGowan is married and has three children.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Mark McGowan sworn in as WA's 30th Premier". ABC News. 17 March 2017. 
  2. ^ Emerson, Daniel (19 January 2012). "Leader's style shaped by Hawke Labor tradition". The West Australian. 
  3. ^ "McGowan, Mark – Commendation for Brave Conduct". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "Six MPS appointed Parliamentary Secretaries". Government of Western Australia. 23 March 2001. 
  5. ^ "Bali Memorial Dedication Ceremony Finalised". Government of Western Australia. 7 March 2003. 
  6. ^ Bartlett, Liam (21 January 2005). "Politician says sorry". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 
  7. ^ "Government Gazette" (PDF). State Law Publisher. 10 March 2005. 
  8. ^ "New liquor laws to improve choice, flexibility for public and business". Government of Western Australia. 28 March 2006. 
  9. ^ "New agency to strengthen environment portfolio". Government of Western Australia. 23 May 2006. 
  10. ^ "$15b Gorgon Gas Project Gets Greenlight". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 12 December 2006. 
  11. ^ "OBE a 90s fad: McGowan". ABC Online. 12 December 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
    * O'Brien, Amanda (13 December 2007). "Revived syllabus kills off school fad". The Australian. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
    * "Back to basics as new K-10 syllabus unveiled". Government of Western Australia. 12 December 2007. 
  12. ^ "Scholarship campaign leaves no stone unturned". Government of Western Australia. 31 July 2008. 
  13. ^ "ABC News – "Ethnic branch stacker" a common phrase: McGowan". 10 April 2008. 
  14. ^ "Carpenter apologises for McGowan's ethnic slur". The West Australian. 10 April 2008. 
  15. ^ "ABC News – Carpenter defends McGowan over dealings with Brian Burke". 2 May 2008. 
  16. ^ "Ripper elected WA Labor Leader". ABC News. 16 September 2008. 
  17. ^ "WA Opposition Leader Ripper resigns". ABC News. 18 January 2012. 
  18. ^ Trenwith, Courtney (23 January 2012). "McGowan officially elected Labor leader". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  19. ^ Newspoll: 53–47 to Labor in Western Australia – The Poll Bludger, 4 January 2015
  20. ^ Oct-Dec 2015 WA polling: Newspoll
  21. ^ WA Labor in election-winning position in latest Newspoll – ABC 4 January 2016
  22. ^ Newspoll: McGowan strong; Barnett’s landslide unlikely – The Australian 4 January 2016
  23. ^ Labor ahead of Liberals in Newspoll result for next WA election - PerthNow 4 January 2016
  24. ^ Spagnolo, Joe; Flint, John (12 March 2017). "WA Election 2017: Mark McGowan sweeps into power as Labor wins WA election". Perth Now. 
  25. ^ Labor 55.5% 2PP vote and +12.8-point 2PP swing sourced from Antony Green's temporary estimate within provided ABC link published 30 March 2017, which states "The two-party-preferred count is based on estimates for Baldivis, Moore and Roe. Actual two-party-preferred counts for these seats will be available at a later date. – Final 2017 WA Election Results plus a New Electoral Pendulum: Antony Green ABC 30 March 2017
  26. ^ a b Antony Green (16 March 2017). "The Role of One-Vote One-Value Electoral Reforms in Labor's Record WA Victory". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 16 March 2017. 
  27. ^ "WA Election 2017". ABC News. 11 March 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2017. 
  28. ^ "WA Election: Seventh minister lost in WA Liberals rout". ABC News. 15 March 2017. Retrieved 16 March 2017. 
  29. ^ McNeill, Heather. "WA Labor announces new ministry, two big names miss out". WA Today. Retrieved 15 March 2017. 
  30. ^ Kagi, Jacob (17 March 2017). "Premier Mark McGowan quick off the mark on foreign worker policy changes". ABC News. 
  31. ^ Kagi, Jacob (14 March 2017). "WA election: Cost of cancelling Roe 8 no barrier to Labor despite Liberal warnings". ABC News. 

External links[edit]

Western Australian Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
Michael Barnett
Member for Rockingham
Political offices
Preceded by
Eric Ripper
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Mike Nahan
Preceded by
Colin Barnett
Premier of Western Australia
Party political offices
Preceded by
Eric Ripper
Leader of the Labor Party in Western Australia