McGowan to wait on naming new treasurer

Tim Dornin
·2-min read

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan will wait until after the upcoming state election to name a successor to outgoing Treasurer Ben Wyatt, should Labor be returned to office.

Mr Wyatt will leave politics at the March poll after initially announcing his decision to quit the parliament in February last year.

He later changed his mind and said he would stay to help the state through the coronavirus pandemic but returned to his original plan a month after delivering the state budget.

Pressed to name a potential successor on Monday, Mr McGowan said to do so would be to presume Labor would win the March poll.

"I'm not so arrogant as to assume that I'm going to win the election, we have a tough fight ahead of us." Mr McGowan said.

"Obviously, if we are re-elected, we will be able to appoint a new treasurer.

"I have many very good people within the existing cabinet who could undertake the role.

"But at this point in time, I'm not so arrogant or so full of myself as to just assume the election is won."

A lawyer who attended the London School of Economics before becoming Australia's first Indigenous treasurer, Mr Wyatt had long been viewed as a future premier and one of the government's strongest performers.

His retirement opens the door for Hannah Beazley, the daughter of WA Governor and former federal Labor leader Kim Beazley, to contest the safe Labor seat of Victoria Park.

When he reaffirmed his decision to go in November, Mr Wyatt said he regretted any inconvenience his changed position had caused.

"In March, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the Western Australian community, I had been reluctant to leave in the midst of this great fight," he said in a statement.

"But having completed the delivery of the state budget, which supports the continued economic recovery from the pandemic, I am now confident that Western Australia is well on its way to overcoming the challenges presented to it by COVID-19."

West Australians go to the polls on March 13 with Mr McGowan strongly tipped to be returned as premier, partly because of his handling of the coronavirus.

He faces first-term MP Zach Kirkup who only took over as Liberal leader in November after a decision by Liza Harvey to step down.