The Finance and Energy portfolios are set to be united as early as today under new Minister Mike Nahan, with major implications for the electricity bills of WA's businesses and the private power sector.
Mr Nahan is an economist and former head of the pro-market Institute of Public Affairs and was parliamentary secretary to Energy Minister Peter Collier.
He will take on the politically sensitive role potentially after today's Liberal party room meeting and broader Cabinet reshuffle, according to multiple party sources.
And Planning Minister John Day has emerged as the king-maker in who grabs the key Mines and Petroleum ministry, with the close ally of Premier Colin Barnett said to be "able to name his role" according to Liberal insiders.
If he opts against becoming Mines Minister, to replace the retiring Norman Moore, the post is almost certain to be filled by Environment Minister Bill Marmion.
Mr Marmion is said to be keen on the coveted and important job, and he would bring his civil engineering background to the table.
The energy portfolio was a problem for Barnett Government in its first term, having to navigate sharp increases in power prices, bungled new plants by State utilities and complaints that it was discouraging private sector investment with rule changes and an unhealthy reliance on "reviews" of the sector.
However given Dr Nahan's pro-competition background, the Liberal party faces a test of its free market credentials with Mr Barnett often expressing support for closer tie ups between State-owned generator Verve and retailer Synergy.
During the election campaign Mr Barnett also said that electricity prices would only rise at about the rate of inflation, much less than the 21 per cent Treasury says is needed to bring power prices in line with the cost of producing electricity - a move supported by industry.
Richard Harris of the Independent Power Association said that Dr Nahan would be a good choice.
"We would welcome the appointment of Mike Nahan as Minister given his strong support for competition and markets," Mr Harris said. "We don't think Government should be in the business of building any more power stations."
By taking Finance and Energy, Dr Nahan would also take control of the energy policy arm of Government - the Public Utilities Office - which sits in Finance along with Small Business and Commerce. Treasurer Troy Buswell will retain his brief, but current Finance Minister Simon O'Brien is set to be dumped from Cabinet.
Other sources downplayed speculation that Nationals Leader Brendon Grylls would lose Regional Development. But the Nationals may give up Agriculture to someone like Upper House MP Ken Baston with the Liberals keen to reassert themselves in the bush.Ocean Reef Liberal MP Albert Jacob seems certain to join Cabinet, possibly as Environment Minister depending on Mr Day's moves.
'The West Australian' is a trademark of West Australian Newspapers Limited 2013.
All rights reserved.
Select your state to see news for your area.