Colin James Barnett (born 15 July 1950) is a former Australian politician who was the 29th Premier of Western Australia. He had previously served as the state's Treasurer, as well as holding various other portfolios in Western Australia's Cabinet.
Barnett was born in Nedlands, Perth. He graduated from the University of Western Australia with an economics degree. Having lectured in economics at the Western Australian Institute of Technology and served as an executive director of the Western Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly for the seat of Cottesloe at a by-election in 1990. Barnett served as a minister in the Court–Cowan Ministry from 1993 until its defeat at the 2001 election, after which he was made leader of the Liberal Party, replacing the outgoing premier, Richard Court. He resigned as leader after the unsuccessful 2005 election, but regained the position prior to the 2008 election, where he was elected premier. Barnett was sworn into office on 23 September 2008 by Ken Michael, the Governor of Western Australia at the time. At the 2013 election Barnett and his government were re-elected to a second term.
The Liberals were defeated at the 2017 election, and WA Labor's Mark McGowan succeeded Barnett as Premier. On 15 December 2017, Barnett announced his intention to resign from politics, which he did on 5 February 2018.
|29th Premier of Western Australia|
Elections: 2005, 2008, 2013, 2017
23 September 2008 – 17 March 2017
|Governor||Ken Michael |
|Deputy||Kim Hames |
|Preceded by||Alan Carpenter|
|Succeeded by||Mark McGowan|
|Treasurer of Western Australia|
27 April 2010 – 14 December 2010
|Preceded by||Troy Buswell|
|Succeeded by||Christian Porter|
12 June 2012 – 7 July 2012
|Preceded by||Christian Porter|
|Succeeded by||Troy Buswell|
10 March 2014 – 17 March 2014
|Preceded by||Troy Buswell|
|Succeeded by||Mike Nahan|
|27th Leader of the Opposition in Western Australia|
26 February 2001 – 9 March 2005
|Preceded by||Richard Court|
|Succeeded by||Matt Birney|
6 August 2008 – 23 September 2008
|Preceded by||Troy Buswell|
|Succeeded by||Eric Ripper|
17 March 2017 – 21 March 2017
|Preceded by||Mark McGowan|
|Succeeded by||Mike Nahan|
|Member of the Western Australian Parliament|
11 August 1990 – 5 February 2018
|Preceded by||Bill Hassell|
|Succeeded by||David Honey|
Colin James Barnett
15 July 1950
Nedlands, Western Australia
|Political party||Liberal Party|
|Alma mater||University of Western Australia|
Barnett was born in Nedlands, an inner western suburb of Perth, on 15 July 1950. He was educated at Nedlands Primary School and Hollywood Senior High School. He began studying geology at the University of Western Australia, but switched to an economics course from which he graduated with an honours degree and later a master's degree. In 1973, he became a cadet research officer for the Australian Bureau of Statistics in Canberra, being promoted to senior research officer before returning to Perth in 1975 to become a lecturer in Economics at the Western Australian Institute of Technology (later renamed Curtin University).
In 1981, he was seconded to the Confederation of Western Australian Industry, becoming the founding editor of their publication, Western Australian Economic Review. He was later appointed their chief economist, and served with them until 1985, when he became the executive director of the Western Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
After former state Liberal leader Bill Hassell retired from politics in 1990, Barnett won the ensuing by-election in his old seat of Cottesloe. He had not previously been a member of the Liberal Party, only joining during the preselection process.
Despite this, Barnett was appointed to the shadow cabinet of Barry MacKinnon shortly after entering parliament, with responsibility for housing and works. He also added the fuel and energy portfolio in August 1991. In May 1992, MacKinnon was replaced as leader by Richard Court. Barnett ran for the deputy leadership against Cheryl Edwardes, and after an initial 16–16 tie was elected by lot. He retained responsibility for fuel and energy in the subsequent reshuffle of the shadow ministry, and was also given the state development portfolio.
After Court led the Liberals to power at the 1993 state election, Barnett became Minister for Resources Development and Energy and later, Minister for Education and Minister for Tourism in the Court–Cowan Ministry. He was also the Leader of the House in the Legislative Assembly and remained deputy leader of the Liberal Party. He was generally regarded as a competent and successful minister, and was associated with a number of important resource development projects.
The Court government was defeated at the 2001 election. Court had a somewhat frosty relationship with Barnett and wanted to keep him from becoming leader of the opposition. While Court was from the conservative wing of the state Liberal Party, Barnett is from the moderate wing. Court engineered a plan to have federal MP Julie Bishop succeed him instead. Under Court's plan, both he and Barnett would have resigned from the state legislature. Bishop would have resigned from federal parliament and handed her seat of Curtin, the safest Liberal seat in the Perth area, to Barnett. Bishop would have then run in either Barnett's seat of Cottesloe or Court's seat of Nedlands, both reckoned as comfortably safe Liberal seats, and Court would have handed the leadership of the state Liberal Party to Bishop. When Barnett found out about the plan, he claimed to have "choked on his Weet-Bix" at what he described as "an act of treachery or deceit." However, when Bishop rejected the plan, Court, finding himself in an untenable situation, resigned. Barnett then took the leadership after defeating his only opponent Rod Sweetman.
At the 2005 state election, Barnett proposed the construction of a canal from the rivers of the Kimberley Ranges in northern Western Australia to Perth to meet Perth's growing water supply problem. The proposal was costed by Barnett at A$2 billion, however it soon emerged that no feasibility study or detailed costings had been done. Some experts put the cost as high as A$5 billion. The Prime Minister, John Howard, refused to commit federal funds to the project. He released the policy costings only a few days before the election, when a A$200 million error in the costings document was discovered. When the Gallop government was returned with its majority intact, Barnett accepted responsibility for the defeat and resigned the Liberal leadership. On 9 March 2005 Liberal MPs elected Matt Birney, the member for Kalgoorlie, as Barnett's successor.
Barnett spent the next two years on the backbench—the first time in his career he had not been either a minister or opposition frontbencher. In November 2007, he announced that he would retire from politics at the next state election, at that stage due by May 2009.
On 4 August 2008, Troy Buswell resigned as Opposition Leader and two days later Barnett was re-elected unopposed to the Liberal leadership despite the fact that he had previously announced his retirement and Deidre Willmott (who would subsequently be appointed as his Chief of Staff) had been endorsed in his electorate. On 7 August 2008, Premier Alan Carpenter called an early election for 6 September 2008. Barnett led the Liberal Party to the election, which saw a significant swing away from the incumbent Labor Party, leading to a hung parliament. The balance of power rested with the WA Nationals. While the federal Liberals and Nationals are in Coalition at the federal level, the WA Nationals do not necessarily follow their federal counterparts' lead politically. Knowing that Nationals leader Brendon Grylls was in a position to effectively choose the next premier, both Barnett and Carpenter courted the Nationals' support.
A week after the election, the Nationals agreed to support the Liberal Party as a minority government. As part of the deal, Grylls and two other Nationals accepted posts in Barnett's cabinet. However, the National ministers had only limited cabinet collective responsibility, unlike past Liberal-National coalitions in Western Australia (and at most levels in the rest of the country), and the Nationals reserved the right to vote against the government on issues that affected their electorates' interests. Additionally, Grylls was not appointed Deputy Premier, a post which went to Liberal deputy leader Dr Kim Hames. Carpenter resigned rather than face certain defeat on the floor of the Assembly, and Barnett was sworn into office on 23 September 2008.
Barnett was the sole state premier opposed to Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's key Health reform policy deal at the April 2010 COAG meeting. Barnett at the time led the only Liberal State Government in Australia, while all others states were led by Labor Governments. The reasoning for Barnett's strong opposition towards the reform was because it would require the State Governments to forfeit a proportion of their GST revenue. The Rudd Government's proposal was that 30 per cent of the GST revenue pool was to be dedicated towards the Commonwealth's contribution for hospital services, which had a disproportionate impact on those States receiving a less than per capita share of the GST pool (for Western Australia, this would have resulted in an estimated 64 per cent of GST revenue being forfeit). Barnett had already been angered that Western Australia was given a decreased 7.1 percent amount of the GST revenue (lower than last year's revenue amount of 8.1 percent) while Western Australia is a state that will be heavily relied upon for the nation's economic growth due to its booming resource sector. Western Australia therefore would be heavily dependent on GST revenue to fund major resource sector projects although they would not be supported by GST revenue, thus becoming extensive expenditure for the state.
Barnett believed that if Western Australia had agreed to a proposition for the States to handover 30% of the GST revenue pool, the arrangement could eventually lead to the federal government being able to acquire 100% of the state's GST revenue. The reaction of Barnett towards the health reform has been considered by political writer Peter van Onselen as a preservation of the states' rights.
From 27 April 2010, Barnett held the Treasury Portfolio after the resignation of former Treasurer Troy Buswell. In a cabinet reshuffle he handed the portfolio to Christian Porter later that same year. Barnett returned to the treasury portfolio when Christian Porter suddenly decided to pursue a career in federal politics and resigned immediately from all his state ministerial portfolios on 12 June 2012. Porter's resignation saw Barnett serve as an interim Treasurer until he was officially replaced by Troy Buswell the following month on 7 July.
Barnett led the Liberals to victory in the 2013 state election, taking 31 seats on a swing of 8.8 points. This was theoretically enough for the Liberals to govern alone, and marked only the second time that the main non-Labor party in Western Australia had won a majority in its own right since adopting the Liberal banner in 1944. However, Barnett said after the election that the coalition with the WA Nationals would be retained. According to ABC election analyst Antony Green, Barnett would have been forced to keep the Nationals in his cabinet in any event. Even after the 2008 electoral reforms, rural areas are still significantly overrepresented in the Legislative Council. Green argued that the rural weighting in the Legislative Council makes it politically impossible for a Liberal premier to govern without National support, even when the Liberals win enough Legislative Assembly seats to theoretically govern alone.
In October 2004, Barnett led a campaign to raise the age of consent for homosexual acts from 16 to 18. This policy of recriminalisation was opposed by several major organisations, including Amnesty International, the World Health Organization, and the Australian Medical Association, as well as all other parliamentary parties, including the Nationals.
In October 2009, Barnett announced a series of new policies relating to drug legislation including a repeal of the Cannabis Control Act 2003. The previous laws were formulated by Geoff Gallop's drug summit, taking input from experts such as academics, police, social workers, lawyers, medical professionals and members of the public. Barnett has stated it is his intention to overturn these laws because of his beliefs and stated that the drug summit members made a mistake introducing them and that cannabis was a "gateway drug". To help with the enforcement of this new policy, Barnett also supported legislation to give police the power to search and seize property without any suspicion or belief that a crime has been committed. A Liberal parliamentarian, Peter Abetz, voiced support for these laws in parliament by drawing reference to the work Adolf Hitler did to bring security to Nazi Germany. Barnett said that Abetz was making a valid point.
In June 2013, Barnett said that Western Australia would not sign up to the Gillard Government Gonski School Funding Reforms. Barnett said that he will not let the federal government govern schools.
In December 2013, Barnett announced a controversial plan for great white sharks to be shot and disposed of at sea if they come within one kilometre of the coast of West Australia, while acknowledging broad dissent in the community.
In 2015, former Liberal leader Bill Hassell—who had preceded Barnett as the member for Cottesloe and "has a habit of excoriating Barnett in the media" according to The Australian—labelled Barnett a social liberal and a useful over-spender. Barnett claimed mining royalties were spent on "disability, mental health and other areas of social need". In December 2007 when former Liberal leader Barnett was once again a backbencher and contemplating political retirement, he claimed: "I'm disappointed that the Liberal Party has been taken over by hardline right-wingers" and "The party has become inflexible and has held a hard line on social issues, and that has not worked with 30-year-old voters" and "We should be more moderate on social issues. Saying sorry to Aboriginal people is part of that. We should have said sorry long ago".
On 17 September 2016, Local Government Minister Tony Simpson and Transport Minister Dean Nalder resigned from Cabinet. Subsequently, a motion to spill the leadership of the WA Liberal Party was brought by backbencher Murray Cowper. On 20 September, it was defeated 31 votes to 15. Nalder, who would have nominated against Barnett if the spill motion had passed, promised not to launch future leadership challenges.
Most polls since Barnett's landslide victory in 2013 showed the Barnett government well behind Labor. A Newspoll conducted from October to December 2015 and released in January 2016, revealing the government significantly trailing 47–53 two-party against the Labor opposition, representing a double-digit two-party swing of more than 10 points since the 2013 election. Had this been repeated at an election, it would have been more than enough to deny Barnett a third term. Just prior to the 2013 election, Barnett was nominated Better Premier with a 21-point lead on 52 percent, with an approval rating of 51 percent and a disapproval rating of 36 percent. Since then, Labor leader Mark McGowan has consistently led Barnett as Better Premier by several percent, with Barnett's approval rating consistently low, currently at 33 percent, with his disapproval rating consistently high, currently at 54 percent.
On 11 March 2017, Barnett was swept from power in the largest defeat of a sitting government in Western Australia's history. The Coalition suffered a swing of 12.6 percent and lost 20 seats. Seven members of Barnett's cabinet, including Grylls, were defeated. The Coalition took a particularly severe beating in Perth. It went into the election holding 26 of the capital's 43 seats, but many Liberals in the outer suburbs sat on inflated margins. The Liberals suffered a 13.6 percent swing in Perth, and were cut down to just nine seats there, including Barnett's. Barnett resigned as Liberal leader and returned to the backbench; he was succeeded as WA Liberal leader by his former Treasurer, Mike Nahan.
|Parliament of Western Australia|
| Member for Cottesloe
|Party political offices|
| Leader of the Liberal Party (WA Division)
| Leader of the Opposition of Western Australia
| Premier of Western Australia
Elections were held in the state of Western Australia on 26 February 2005 to elect all 57 members to the Legislative Assembly and all 34 members to the Legislative Council. The Labor government, led by Premier Geoff Gallop, won a second term in office against the Liberal Party, led by Opposition Leader Colin Barnett.Alan Carpenter
Alan John Carpenter (born 4 January 1957) is a former Australian politician who served as the 28th Premier of Western Australia, from 2006 to 2008. From Albany, Carpenter graduated from the University of Western Australia, and worked as a journalist before entering politics. A member of the Labor Party, he was first elected to the Legislative Assembly at the 1996 state election, representing the seat of Willagee. In the Gallop ministry, which took office following the 2001 election, Carpenter was Minister for Education (later Education and Training), as well as holding several other portfolios. He replaced Geoff Gallop as premier in January 2006, following Gallop's resignation, but Labor lost office following a hung parliament at the 2008 election, with Colin Barnett becoming premier as the leader of a minority Liberal Party government. Carpenter resigned from parliament in 2009, and currently holds a senior management position with Wesfarmers Limited.Barnett Ministry
The Barnett Ministry was the 35th Ministry of the Government of Western Australia. It included 13 members of the Liberal Party, three members of the National Party and an independent. It was led by the Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, and Deputy Premier Liza Harvey. It succeeded the Carpenter Ministry on 23 September 2008 following the 2008 election and was succeeded by the McGowan Ministry following the Liberal Party's defeat at the 2017 election.Bill Marmion
William Richard Marmion (born 22 May 1954) is an Australian politician who has been a member of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia since 2008, representing the seat of Nedlands. He served as a minister in the government of Colin Barnett from 2010 to 2017.David Honey
David John Honey (born 18 April 1958) is an Australian politician. He was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly as a Liberal Party member for the electoral district of Cottesloe in a by-election on 17 March 2018, following the resignation of former Premier Colin Barnett.
Honey has a Bachelor of Science and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Western Australia, and prior to the by-election was manager of refinery residue operations for Alcoa, and president of the Kwinana Industries Council. He was state president of the Liberal Party in Western Australia from 1994 to 1997.
During his time as party president Honey was aligned to controversial power broker Noel Crichton-Browne but when Crichton-Browne made inappropriate sexual comments to journalist Colleen Egan at a Liberal Party conference, Honey quickly condemned him for these remarks and then supported the successful motion to expel Crichton-Browne from the party.Dean Nalder
Dean Cambell Nalder (born 5 February 1966) is an Australian politician who has been a member of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia since 2013, representing the seat of Alfred Cove until 2017 and Bateman thereafter. He served as a minister in the government of Colin Barnett from March 2014 to September 2016.Dixie Marshall
Dixie Marshall (born March 1963) is a Western Australian former television news presenter and currently the strategic communications director for Colin Barnett, the Premier of Western Australia.Donna Faragher
Donna Evelyn Mary Faragher (née Taylor; born 12 September 1975) is an Australian politician who has been a Liberal Party member of the Legislative Council of Western Australia since 2005, representing East Metropolitan Region. She became a minister in the government of Colin Barnett in 2008, becoming the youngest woman to hold ministerial office in Western Australia.Electoral district of Bunbury
Bunbury is an electoral district of the Legislative Assembly in the Australian state of Western Australia.
The district, taking in the city of Bunbury has existed continuously since 1890, being one of the original 30 seats contested at the 1890 general election. From 1974 to 2005 the seat was always held by the party of government, making it an effective bellwether. Two early Premiers of Western Australia, Sir John Forrest and Sir Newton Moore, held Bunbury during their time in office. However, after Moore's retirement in 1911, another member for Bunbury was not appointed to a cabinet post until 2008, when John Castrilli became Minister for Local Government under Colin Barnett.Electoral district of Cottesloe
Cottesloe is a Legislative Assembly electorate in the state of Western Australia. Cottesloe is named for the western Perth suburb of Cottesloe which falls within its borders. Its previous member, Colin Barnett, was the 29th Premier of Western Australia. The current member, David Honey, was elected in a by-election after Barnett resigned in 2018.Electoral results for the district of Cottesloe
This is a list of electoral results for the electoral district of Cottesloe in Western Australian state elections.Kim Hames
Kim Desmond Hames (born 24 March 1953) is an Australian politician who was a Liberal Party member of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia from 1993 to 2001 and from 2005 to 2017. He served as a minister in the governments of Richard Court and Colin Barnett, and was deputy premier to Barnett from 2008 to 2016. Hames has announced his intention to retire from parliament at the 2017 state election.Liberal Party of Australia (Western Australian Division)
The Liberal Party of Australia (Western Australian Division) is the division of the Liberal Party of Australia in Western Australia. Formed in 1945, the party has held power for five separate periods in coalition with the National Party (previously the Country party). The party has been in opposition in the state since the 2017 election.Liza Harvey
Liza Mary Harvey (née Browne; born 25 October 1966) is an Australian politician who has been a Liberal Party member of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia since 2008, representing the seat of Scarborough. She was a minister in the government of Colin Barnett, and in 2016 was appointed deputy premier, becoming the first woman to hold the position.Minister for Tourism (Western Australia)
The Minister for Tourism is a position in the Cabinet of Western Australia, first created in 1959 during the Brand–Watts Ministry under the title Minister for Tourists. The current title was adopted in 1971.
The current Minister for Tourism is Colin Barnett of the Liberal Party, who is also the current premier. The minister, who has generally held other portfolios in addition to tourism, is responsible for Tourism Western Australia (previously the Western Australian Tourism Commission), the state government agency responsible for promoting Western Australia as a holiday destination and as an events venue.Peter Collier (politician)
Peter Charles Collier (born 25 February 1959) is an Australian politician who has been a Liberal Party member of the Legislative Council of Western Australia since 2005, representing North Metropolitan Region. He served as a minister in the government of Colin Barnett from 2008 until its defeat at the 2017 election.Simon O'Brien (politician)
Simon McDonnell O'Brien (born 16 May 1960) is an Australian politician who has been a Liberal Party member of the Legislative Council of Western Australia since 1997, representing South Metropolitan Region. He served as a minister in the government of Colin Barnett from 2008 to 2013.
O'Brien was born in Perth, to Dulcie Niola (née Shooter) and Everard McDonnell O'Brien. His father, who died when his son was eleven, was a Labor Party member of parliament in the 1950s. O'Brien attended St. Louis School, John XXIII College, and John Curtin Senior High School. After leaving school, he twice began officer training with the Australian Army, but had to withdraw because of injury. He worked for a period as an orderly at Fremantle Hospital, and then as a customs officer. O'Brien first attempted to enter parliament at the 1989 state election, when he unsuccessfully contested the Legislative Assembly seat of Cockburn (losing to Labor's Bill Thomas).At the 1996 state election, O'Brien was elected to the Legislative Council, having replaced the retiring Clive Griffiths on the Liberal ticket. His term commenced in May 1997, and he has since been re-elected at the 2001, 2005, 2008, and 2013 elections. O'Brien was promoted to the Liberal shadow ministry following the party's defeat at the 2001 election, after which Colin Barnett succeeded Richard Court as party leader. He remained in the shadow ministry under three more leaders, Matt Birney, Paul Omodei, and Troy Buswell, and when Barnett returned as leader in 2008. After the Liberals' victory at the 2008 election, he became Minister for Transport and Minister for Disability Services in the new Barnett ministry. The ministry was reshuffled in 2010, after which O'Brien was instead appointed Minister for Finance, Minister for Commerce, and Minister for Small Business. He was not retained in the ministry after the 2013 election, but was instead made deputy chairman of committees in the Legislative Council (a position which he had earlier held from 2001 to 2008). Following the May 2017 state election, O'Brien was appointed Deputy President of the Legislative Council.Tony Simpson
Anthony James Simpson (born 15 July 1965) is a former Australian politician who was a Liberal Party member of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia from 2005 to 2017. He served as a minister in the government of Colin Barnett from March 2013 to September 2016. Simpson ran a bakery before entering politics.Troy Buswell
Troy Raymond Buswell (born 19 March 1966) is a former Australian politician who was a Liberal member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly from 2005 to 2014, representing the seat of Vasse. He was Treasurer of Western Australia in the Barnett Ministry from 2008 to 2010 and from 2012 to 2014, and also held several other portfolios.
From Busselton, Western Australia, and educated at the University of Western Australia, Buswell was Leader of the Opposition for several months in 2008, before being replaced by Colin Barnett, and was then named Treasurer following the Liberal Party's victory at the 2008 state election. He resigned from the ministry in April 2010 following allegations of improper use of ministerial allowances during an extramarital affair with Greens MLA Adele Carles, the Member for Fremantle. Buswell was re-appointed to the ministry in December 2010 as Minister for Transport and Minister for Housing, and regained the post of Treasurer in July 2012.
After taking several days personal leave early in the month, he resigned from Cabinet on 10 March 2014. The Premier said that Buswell had suffered a breakdown and had received hospital treatment in Perth and a clinic in Sydney. He resigned from parliament on 3 September 2014, citing his health as being incompatible with public life.