Paul Papalia

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The Honourable
Paul Papalia
Member of the Western Australian Parliament
for Peel
In office
3 February 2007 – 6 September 2008
Preceded by Norm Marlborough
Member of the Western Australian Parliament
for Warnbro
Assumed office
6 September 2008
Personal details
Born (1962-07-12) 12 July 1962 (age 55)
Bunbury, Western Australia
Citizenship Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Occupation Navy clearance diver
Military service
Allegiance Australia
Service/branch Royal Australian Navy
Years of service 1978–2004
Rank Lieutenant Commander
Battles/wars United Nations Special Commission
Iraq War
Awards Conspicuous Service Cross

Paul Papalia CSC (born 12 July 1962) is an Australian politician. He has been an Australian Labor Party member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly since February 2007. Originally the member for Peel. he is now the member for Warnbro. A decorated former navy diver who served two tours in Iraq, Papalia entered parliament after winning a by-election sparked by the resignation of scandal-tarred former minister Norm Marlborough.

Early life and naval career[edit]

Papalia was born in Bunbury, Western Australia. He served in the Royal Australian Navy for 26 years before entering politics, working as a navy diver and rising to the rank of lieutenant commander. He specialised in explosives retrieval and escape and rescue.[1][2][3] He served with the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq during the early 1990s, and was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in 1994 for his work there.[4] Papalia later returned to Iraq during the Iraq War, serving as executive officer in an Australian mine-clearing team.[5] He left the navy in 2004, and operated a small business renovating houses up until the time of his election to parliament.[6] He publicly opposes the Iraq War, and has advocated a rapid withdrawal of Australian forces from the country.[7]

Political career[edit]

In November 2006, state Minister for Small Business Norm Marlborough resigned from parliament after it was revealed that he had lied to the Corruption and Crime Commission about his dealings with disgraced former Premier of Western Australia Brian Burke, thus triggering a by-election in his electorate of Peel.[8] Peel had been held by the Labor Party since the seat's inception and was generally considered a safe Labor seat, but concerns about an electoral backlash over Marlborough's conduct led the party to look for a candidate without a political background.[9] Papalia thus nominated for Labor preselection in the by-election, and was easily successful – despite having only joined the party weeks before – after receiving strong support from Premier Alan Carpenter.[10] He went on to easily win the by-election, receiving a small swing in his favour in a seat that the government had feared they might lose.[11]

The district of Peel was abolished with effect at the 2008 state election. Papalia instead successfully contested the new seat of Warnbro, which covers much the same area.


  1. ^ O'Brien, Amanda. "Iraq war veteran to run for ALP". The Australian, 15 December 2006.
  2. ^ Mason, Graham and Spencer, Ben. "No new blood in Ravlich reshuffle". The West Australian, 14 December 2006.
  3. ^ Mason, Graham. "Premier gets navy diver for Peel". The West Australian, 15 December 2006.
  4. ^ "Australia Day Honours". Sydney Morning Herald, 26 January 1994.
  5. ^ Baker, Mark. "Secrets of Australian heroism revealed". The Age, 3 May 2003.
  6. ^ O'Brien, Amanda. "Lib's hopes on scandal fallout". The Australian, 31 January 2007.
  7. ^ Taylor, Robert. "Navy man dives in for Peel selection". The West Australian, 11 December 2006.
  8. ^ O'Brien, Amanda. "Lib's hopes on scandal fallout". The Australian, 31 January 2007.
  9. ^ Taylor, Robert. "Our new man for Peel is a cleanskin, says Carpenter". The West Australian, 18 January 2007.
  10. ^ Mason, Graham. "Premier gets navy diver for Peel". The West Australian, 15 December 2006.
  11. ^ Lampathakis, Paul (2 February 2007). "Labor claims Peel victory". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 21 December 2010. 
Western Australian Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
Norm Marlborough
Member for Peel
Succeeded by
Seat abolished
Preceded by
New seat
Member for Warnbro