Premier of Western Australia

Premier of Western Australia

Infobox minister office
border = provincial
minister = prime
title = Premier
jurisdiction = Western Australia

incumbent = Colin Barnett
his/her = His
appointed_by = Ken Michael
governor = Governor of Western Australia
first_minister = John Forrest
date = 29 December 1890

The Premier of Western Australia is the head of the executive government in the Australian State of Western Australia. He or she performs the same functions in Western Australia as the Prime Minister of Australia does at the national level. The current Premier is Colin Barnett who was sworn into office by Governor Ken Michael on 23 September 2008. [ [ Barnett sworn in as WA's 29th Premier] , The West Australian, 23 September 2008]


The premier must be a member of one of the two Houses of the Parliament of Western Australia; by convention the premier is a member of the lower house, the Western Australian Legislative Assembly. He or she is appointed by the governor on the advice of the lower house, and must resign if he or she loses the support of the majority of that house. Consequently, the premier is almost always the leader of the political party or coalition of parties with the majority of seats in the lower house.


The office of premier of Western Australia was first formed in 1890, after Western Australia was officially granted responsible government by Britain in 1889. The [ Constitution of Western Australia] does not explicitly provide for a premier, and the office was not formally listed as one of the executive offices until the appointment of Ross McLarty in 1947. Nonetheless, John Forrest immediately adopted the title on taking office as first premier of Western Australia in 1890, and it has been used ever since.

John Forrest was the only premier of Western Australia as a self-governing colony. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, Western Australia became an Australian state and the responsibilities of the office of premier were diminished.

Party politics began in Western Australia with the rise of the Labor party in 1901. By 1904, the party system was entrenched in Western Australian politics. Since then the premiers have been associated with political parties.

Western Australia's constitution contains nothing to preclude the premier being a member of the upper house, the Western Australian Legislative Council. Historically and by convention, however, the premier is a member of the Assembly. The only exception has been Hal Colebatch, a member of the Legislative Council who accepted the premiership in April 1919 on the understanding that an Assembly seat would be found for him, only to resign a month later when no seat could be found.

During the economic boom of the 1980s, the Western Australian government became closely involved with a number of large businesses. A succession of deals were made between the government and businesses, and these ultimately caused great losses for the state. A subsequent royal commission found evidence of widespread corruption. Three former premiers were found to have acted improperly and two of them, Ray O'Connor and Brian Burke, were jailed. This scandal became popularly known as WA Inc.

List of Premiers of Western Australia

# The premiers were not officially associated with organised parties until 1904.

Graphical timeline

Living former premiers

As of March 2008, seven former premiers are alive, the oldest being Ray O'Connor (1982–1983, born in 1926). The most recent premier to die was Sir Charles Court (1974–1982) on 22 December 2007.

ee also

* Leader of the Opposition (Western Australia)
* Speaker of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly


* Reid, G. S. and M. R. Oliver (1982). The Premiers of Western Australia 1890–1982. University of Western Australia Press. Nedlands, Western Australia. ISBN 0-85564-214-9.
* The Constitution Centre of Western Australia (2002). [ Governors and Premiers of Western Australia] . West Perth, Western Australia. ISBN 0-7307-3821-3.

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