The Premier of Western
1 Function 2 History 3 List of Premiers of Western Australia 4 Living former premiers 5 Graphical timeline 6 See also 7 Notes 8 References 9 Further reading
Function The premier must be a member of one of the two Houses of the Parliament of Western Australia; and by convention the premier is a member of the lower house, the Legislative Assembly.[a] 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. History
Sir John Forrest, the first Premier of Western Australia, who served from 1890 to 1901.
The office of premier of Western
№ Name (lifespan) Portrait Constituency Party Term of office Ministry Election(s) Ref
1 Sir John Forrest (1847–1918)
MLA for Bunbury 1890–1901 (resigned) none[b] (pro-Forrest) 29 December 1890 15 February 1901 Forrest Ministry 1890 1894 1897 
Appointed by Governor William Robinson as the first premier of Western
Australia. Began large-scale public works projects, including
2 George Throssell (1840–1910)
MLA for Northam 1890–1904 (resigned) MLC for East Province 1907–1910 (died) none[b] (pro-Forrest) 15 February 1901 27 May 1901 Throssell Ministry 1901 
Took over as Premier and Treasurer after Forrest's resignation in February 1901. Contested the 1901 election as Premier, but resigned after his faction failed to win a majority of seats.
MLA for Roebourne 1890 (resigned) MLA for Albany 1894–1900 (resigned) MLA for West Perth 1901–1902 (died) none[b] (Opposition) 27 May 1901 21 November 1901 1st Leake Ministry – 
Became Premier as a compromise between the opposing factions of
4 Alf Morgans (1850–1933)
MLA for Coolgardie 1897–1904 (resigned) none[b] (Ministerialist) 21 November 1901 23 December 1901 Morgans Ministry – 
Served as Premier for 32 days as a compromise after George Leake's government was defeated. Resigned after members of his Cabinet were defeated in a ministerial by-election.
MLA for Roebourne 1890 (resigned) MLA for Albany 1894–1900 (resigned) MLA for West Perth 1901–1902 (died) none[b] (Opposition) 23 December 1901 1 July[c] 1902 2nd Leake Ministry – 
Again became Premier after the failure of Alf Morgans' government. Died in office on 24 June 1902.
5 Sir Walter James (1863–1943)
MLA for East Perth 1894–1904 (resigned) none[b] (Opposition) 1 July[c] 1902 10 August 1904 James Ministry 1904 
Sworn in as Premier after Leake's death. Led a reforming government,
which legalised trade unions and introduced workers' compensation and
6 Henry Daglish (1866–1920)
MLA for Subiaco 1901–1911 (lost seat) Labor Party 10 August 1904 25 August 1905 Daglish Ministry – 
Western Australia's first Labor premier. John Drayon, a newspaper editor, imprisoned under parliamentary privilege. Defeated after twelve months over plans to buy out the Midland Railway Company for £1.5 million.
7 Sir Hector Rason (1858–1927)
MLC for Swan 1889–1890 (resigned) MLA for South Murchison 1897–1901 (resigned) MLA for Guildford 1901–1906 (resigned) Ministerialist 25 August 1905 7 May 1906 Morgans Ministry 1905 
Became premier after Henry Daglish's government was defeated. Headed a Royal Commission on immigration. Resigned in 1906 after appointing himself Agent General.
8 Sir Newton Moore (1870–1936)
MLA for Bunbury 1904–1911 (resigned) Ministerialist 7 May 1906 16 September 1910 Moore Ministry 1908 
Began as premier at age 36, with only two years of parliamentary experience, at the time the youngest ever premier. Placed emphasis on agriculture and rural development, establishing the Wheatbelt and implementing the Income and Land Tax. Resigned in September 1910 on grounds of ill health.
9 Frank Wilson (I) (1859–1918)
MLA for Canning 1895–1901 (seat abolished) MLA for Perth 1901 (lost seat) MLA for Sussex 1904–1917 (lost seat) Ministerialist 16 September 1910 7 October 1911 1st Wilson Ministry 1911 
Pushed through legislation which established the University of Western
10 John Scaddan (1876–1934)
MLA for Ivanhoe 1904–1911 (seat abolished) MLA for Brown Hill-Ivanhoe 1911–1916 (resigned) 1916–1917 (lost seat) MLA for Albany 1919–1924 (did not contest) MLA for Maylands 1930–1933 (lost seat) Labor Party 7 October 1911 27 July 1916 Scaddan Ministry 1914 
Passed a number of reform bills, established a state income tax,
extended workers' compensation, reformed the education system, and set
up a number of state-owned industries, including the State Shipping
Service, abattoirs, sawmills, quarries, brickworks and farms. SS
Koombana wrecked off the coast of Port Hedland.
– (9) Frank Wilson (II) (1859–1918)
MLA for Canning 1895–1901 (seat abolished) MLA for Perth 1901 (lost seat) MLA for Sussex 1904–1917 (lost seat) Liberal Party 27 July 1916 28 June 1917 2nd Wilson Ministry – 
Returned as premier after Scaddan's Labor government lost a majority
in the lower house. Replaced by
11 Henry Lefroy (1854–1930)
MLA for Moore 1892–1901 (did not contest) 1911–1921 (did not contest) Nationalist Party 28 June 1917 17 April 1919 Lefroy Ministry 1917 
Elected leader by the newly formed majority Nationalist Party. Moore River Native Settlement established 1918. Resigned in 1919 after an unsuccessful leadership spill which forced Lefroy to cast the deciding vote on his premiership.
12 Hal Colebatch (1872–1953)
MLC for East Province 1912–1923 (resigned) Nationalist Party 17 April 1919 17 May 1919 Lefroy Ministry – 
After being elected leader of the Nationalist Party, Colebatch served as premier from the Legislative Council with the understanding that a lower house seat would be found for him. Resigned after a month when no seat could be found for him. Pelted with rocks during the Fremantle wharf crisis. The only person to serve as premier while a member of the upper house, and the short-serving premier.
13 Sir James Mitchell (I) (1866–1951)
MLA for Northam 1905–1933 (lost seat) Nationalist Party 17 May 1919 16 April 1924 1st Mitchell Ministry 1921 1924 
Established a strong Western Australian dairy industry. Initiated the Group Settlement and Soldier Settlement Schemes in the South West. Race riots in Broome in 1920. Defeated by Labor at the 1924 election.
MLA for Boulder 1905–1948 (died) Labor Party 16 April 1924 24 April 1930 1st Collier Ministry 1927 1930 
Reduced taxation, allowing the first surplus in 16 years. Continued
the previous government's rural development initiatives. Woods Royal
Commission on the Forrest River massacre. Centenary of Western
– (13) Sir James Mitchell (II) (1866–1951)
MLA for Northam 1905–1933 (lost seat) Nationalist Party 24 April 1930 24 April 1933 2nd Mitchell Ministry 1933 
Returned after the 1930 election, governing in coalition with the Country Party. Secession referendum held in 1933 was passed with 66% of the vote, however, the Nationalist/Country coalition lost power at the 1933, and the returning Labor government did not act on the results. Moseley Royal Commission regarding the treatment of Aboriginals established.
MLA for Boulder 1905–1948 (died) Labor Party 24 April 1933 19 August 1936 2nd Collier Ministry 1936 
Led his party to victory at the 1936 election. Resigned August 1936. Over his two terms, served nine years and 126 days, the longest by a Labor premier.
15 John Willcock (1879–1956)
MLA for Geraldton 1917–1947 (died) Labor Party 20 August 1936 31 July 1945 Willcock Ministry 1939 1943 
Introduced a range of small secondary industries. Considered a plan
16 Frank Wise (1897–1986)
MLA for Gascoyne 1933–1951 (resigned) Labor Party 31 July 1945 1 April 1947 Wise Ministry 1947
Chosen to serve as premier after John Willcock's resignation. Introduced Air Beef Scheme in the Kimberley. Wise's government was defeated at the 1947 election.
17 Sir Ross McLarty (1891–1962)
MLA for Murray-Wellington 1930–1962 (resigned) Liberal Party 1 April 1947 23 February 1953 McLarty–Watts Ministry 1950 1953 
Governed in coalition with the Country Party. Introduced post-war industrial development, including oil refineries at Kwinana. Established the State Housing Commission. Lost office at the 1953 election.
18 Albert Hawke (1900–1986)
MLA for Northam 1933–1968 (did not contest) Labor Party 23 February 1953 2 April 1959 Hawke Ministry 1956 1959 
Improved public housing. Aboriginal Australians given citizenship rights in 1954. Passed heavily criticised anti-profiteering legislation. The first premier born in the 20th century.
19 Sir David Brand (1912–1979)
MLA for Greenough 1945–1975 (resigned) Liberal Party 2 April 1959 3 March 1971 Brand–Watts Ministry Brand–Nalder Ministry 1962 1965 1968 1971 
First mining of iron ore in the Pilbara. Expanded mineral processing at Kwinana and in the South West. 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games held in Perth.Federal funding obtained for Ord River Scheme. Controversy over proposed demolition of the Barracks Arch. Mining Posiedon bubble burst. Conflict with the federal government over wheat quotas. Lost power at the 1971 election.
20 John Tonkin (1902–1995)
MLA for North-East Fremantle 1933–1950 (seat abolished) MLA for Melville 1950–1977 (did not contest) Labor Party 3 March 1971 8 April 1974 Tonkin Ministry 1974
Emphasis on education and further industrial development.
21 Sir Charles Court (1911–2007)
MLA for Nedlands 1953–1982 (resigned) Liberal Party 8 April 1974 25 January 1982 Court–McPharlin Ministry Court Ministry 1977 1980
Emphasised development of mining, oil and natural gas industries,
precipitating a mining boom. Perth–
Fremantle railway line
22 Ray O'Connor (1926–2013)
MLA for North Perth 1959–1962 (seat abolished) MLA for Mount Lawley 1962–1984 (resigned) Liberal Party 25 January 1982 25 February 1983 O'Connor Ministry 1983
Continued Charles Court's policies of mining and industrial
23 Brian Burke (born 1947)
MLA for Balcatta 1973–1974 (seat abolished) 1977–1983 (did not contest) MLA for Balga 1974–1977 (seat abolished) 1983–1988 (did not contest) Labor Party 25 February 1983 25 February 1988 Burke Ministry 1986
Fremantle railway line
24 Peter Dowding (born 1943)
MLC for North Province 1979–1986 (resigned) MLA for Maylands 1986–1990 (resigned) Labor Party 25 February 1988 12 February 1990 Dowding Ministry 1989
Took over from Brian Burke as premier in 1988. Resigned in 1990 after being challenged for the ALP leadership after a slump in the polls.
25 Dr Carmen Lawrence (born 1948)
MLA for Subiaco 1986–1989 (seat abolished) MLA for Glendalough 1989–1994 (resigned) Labor Party 12 February 1990 16 February 1993 Lawrence Ministry 1993
Royal Commission into WA Inc. Northern Suburbs Transit System
26 Richard Court (born 1947)
MLA for Nedlands 1982–2001 (resigned) Liberal Party 16 February 1993 10 February 2001 Court–Cowan Ministry 1996 2001
Governed in coalition with the Nationals, led by Hendy Cowan. Scandals
over the logging of old-growth forests and a finance-broking scheme.
Graham Farmer Freeway
27 Dr Geoff Gallop (born 1951)
MLA for Victoria Park 1986–2006 (resigned) Labor Party 10 February 2001 25 January 2006 Gallop Ministry 2005
Swan Valley Nyungah Community
28 Alan Carpenter (born 1957)
MLA for Willagee 1996–2009 (resigned) Labor Party 25 January 2006 23 September 2008 Carpenter Ministry 2008
Mandurah railway line opened. Removed three ministers after allegations of impropriety involving former premier Brian Burke by the Corruption and Crime Commission. Defeated at the 2008 election.
29 Colin Barnett (born 1950)
MLA for Cottesloe 1990–2018 (resigned) Liberal Party 23 September 2008 17 March 2017 Barnett Ministry 2013 2017
Minority government in first term in partnership with the National
Party. Developed Perth's foreshore, began and completed construction
of Elizabeth Quay, introduced plans for a new
30 Mark McGowan (born 1967)
MLA for Rockingham 1996–present Labor Party 17 March 2017 Incumbent McGowan Ministry 2017
Won the 2017 state election.
Living former premiers As of 29 March 2018, seven former premiers are alive, the oldest being Peter Dowding (born 1943), who served from 1988 to 1990. The most recent premier to die was Ray O'Connor, on 25 February 2013, aged 86.
Name Term as premier Date of birth Current age
Brian Burke 1983–1988 25 February 1947 71 years, 32 days
Peter Dowding 1988–1990 6 October 1943 74 years, 174 days
Dr Carmen Lawrence 1990–1993 2 March 1948 70 years, 27 days
Richard Court 1993–2001 27 September 1947 70 years, 183 days
Dr Geoff Gallop 2001–2006 27 September 1951 66 years, 183 days
Alan Carpenter 2006–2008 4 January 1957 61 years, 84 days
Colin Barnett 2008–2017 15 July 1950 67 years, 257 days
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Premiers of Western Australia.
List of Premiers of Western
a The only premier to serve in the upper house while premier was Sir
Hal Colebatch, who was elected by the Nationalist Party to fill the
vacancy presented by the resignation of Henry Lefroy, on the condition
that a seat in the lower house would be found for him. He served as
premier for a month before resigning after no seat could be found.
b Prior to the 1904 election, no organised political parties existed,
other than the Australian Labor Party. Parliamentary factions included
the Ministerialist, or pro-Forrest, faction, and the Opposition, or
c Leake died in office on 24 June 1902 from complications resulting
from pneumonia, but the new Walter James-led ministry was not sworn in
until 1 July 1902.
Reid, G. S. and M. R. Oliver (1982). The Premiers of Western Australia
1890–1982. University of Western
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Premiers of Western Australia
Forrest Throssell Leake Morgans Leake James Daglish Rason Moore Wilson Scaddan Wilson Lefroy Colebatch Mitchell Collier Mitchell Collier Willcock Wise McLarty Hawke Brand Tonkin C. Court O'Connor Burke Dowding Lawrence R. Court Gallop Carpenter Barnett McGowan
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Ministerial portfolios (45) of the government of Western Australia
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