Just last week, Christian Porter resigned. Christian Porter was an outstanding MP. In his time in government, he has overseen a number of law reforms, such as anti bikie laws, and delivered the 2012 WA State Budget.
The loss of Porter is a blow for the incumbent Liberal-National Coalition. Outwardly, it can appear that Porter is making an opportunistic grab for a Federal seat, but as the West Australian reports, there is likely to be factors within the State Government that has pushed him to this.
Here are some internal factors that may have led to Porter’s resignation according to reporter Joe Spagnolo in The Sunday Times, June 17, 2012:
Colin Barnett mentioning Kim Hames (Health Minister), as an outstanding deputy leader in an interview- without any mention of Porter;
Barnett’s continual support for scandal ridden Troy Buswell – whom Barnett is almost like a father figure to, according to Spagnolo;
A possibility of Porter alienating back-benchers;
A strong view in the Liberal party that Buswell will be the one taking over Barnett;
Porter becoming more dislikes by the State Liberals – not helped by his position as Treasurer;
The prospect of having to be up against Buswell for the leadership;
Barnett’s reluctance to relinquish his ‘rule’- see for example; http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2012/s3523280.htm See ‘ Mr Barnett says he intends leading the Liberal Party for some time yet, and if re-elected as Premier, wants to serve the full term.’
To add to the woe of lost talent, Spagnolo claims even Buswell is intending to end his career in politics- circa 2017.
This creates a further gap on who would be Premier next; quoting Spagnolo:
‘Buswell remains too damaged to be a real alternative to Barnett and there is no one else in Cabinet who is premiership material.’
This could be a serious problem for the Liberal party in times to come, the lack of talent that can replace Barnett, and a renewed Labor Party under Mike McGowan. McGowan has sneakily done things to win the young vote, such as introducing a micro-brewery legislation if elected, he may find footing and bring back a Labor government in the future.
That is not to say however, there is no talent in the WA Liberal government. As Peter van Onselen points out for example:
MLC Michael Mischin was a more accomplished lawyer than Porter, an excellent replacement for Attorney-General.
Insight from van Onselen reveals that Porter believes WA needs a strong voice in federal politics- a critical issue is a fairer share of GST revenue, much talked about in the papers. It would not be surprising, if most of WA feels robbed by the East.
From the local rumour mill in WA, there is talk of making WA great, but lack of agreement as to how to do it. There is the modern design of the Perth Arena- which some hate and laud as ugly, a new footy stadium in Burswood- a former rubbish tip, and a Perth Waterfront project promising hotels and shopping- dubbed Elizabeth Quay with no consultation from the public on the name.
WA is increasingly seeking a way to enjoy its prosperity, the Liberal-National State Government even establishing a Future fund – which has received criticism for not becoming investment for now.
The so called two speed economy is most felt in WA, where items like electricity or food have skyrocketed and the economy outside of mining lagging in comparison- there needs to be more investment into metropolitan areas to reduce this two speed economy, something which should already be happening slowly- but needs help from the East.
Gina Rinehart somehow convinced Julia Gillard to approve thousands of immigrant work visas for her mines- because no one from the East wanted to come here to work, and now the State Government wants to send envoys of business leaders to attract workers.
Economically, WA is moving away from the East, rightly claimed by Colin Barnett when he said WA’s economy is moving closer to China, probably why he is so cosy with Chinese investment. This is mirrored by WA’s slap in Canberra’s face through Barnett snubbing Gillard’s economic forum, see: http://www.3aw.com.au/blogs/breaking-news-blog/premiers-snub-pms-economic-talkfest/20120612-206tu.html
The West seems increasingly detached from the East, and as long as there is a Liberal government, it will continue and perhaps WA’s flirtation with secession will become reality- newspapers have published articles on secession in recent times. A successful Tony Abbott needs to appease the West- lest lose their support. And it can be done with a few simple things – more GST revenue, more exportation of workers and more investment, of course in addition to killing the great taxes Gillard brought in.
The above are some issues facing WA, more on keeping a government that is more aligned with the TEA party than not:
The Liberal party has no credible successor to Barnett, though Barnett will stay for as long as he can, new blood is needed
Pressures on living cost, including the Liberal-National Sate Governments removal of subsidised electricity and botched solar schemes, may push people towards Labor- if they don’t buy the State Government’s prose that it’s all Julia’s fault.
If WA does not accept the State Government’s vision for the future, it will contibute to them going out.
McGowan has renewed Labor in WA to some extent- whether he will succeed in being a dark horse is uncertain.
A reminder: WA is in minority government and the National’s Brendan Grylls nearly jumped ship to Labor during hung parliament. Upon urging of the national leader of the National’s
he returned to the Liberal-National fold, but it reminds us of the fragile nature of the Right in WA.
Despite all this, the Liberals are actually a reasonably capable bunch in WA
WA was one of the remaining Liberal States when Labor was at its height. A loss for the Right in WA now will show we have not done enough. There needs to be more involvement in WA at all levels, politically, economically and maybe even socially- to keep WA in line with the rest of the nation.