Premier of Western Australia

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John Forrest, the first Premier of Western Australia

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. As of the 2005 State Election the premier of Western Australia is Dr Geoffrey Gallop.



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.

For more information on the office of premier, see Premiers of the Australian states.


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.

The 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

PremierPartyTook office
Sir John ForrestForrest Party129 December 1890
George ThrossellForrest Party115 February 1901
George LeakeOpposition127 May 1901
Alf MorgansMinisterialist121 November 1901
George LeakeOpposition123 December 1901
Sir Walter JamesLiberal11 July 1902
Henry DaglishLabor10 August 1904
Sir Cornthwaite RasonLiberal25 August 1905
Sir Newton MooreLiberal7 May 1906
Frank WilsonLiberal16 September 1910
John ScaddanLabor7 October 1911
Frank WilsonLiberal27 July 1916
Sir Henry LefroyNationalist28 June 1917
Sir Hal ColebatchNationalist17 April 1919
Sir James MitchellNationalist17 May 1919
Philip CollierLabor16 April 1924
Sir James MitchellNationalist24 April 1930
Philip CollierLabor24 April 1933
John WillcockLabor20 August 1936
Frank WiseLabor31 July 1945
Sir Ross McLartyLiberal1 April 1947
Albert HawkeLabor23 February 1953
Sir David BrandLiberal2 April 1959
John TonkinLabor3 April 1971
Sir Charles CourtLiberal8 April 1974
Ray O'ConnorLiberal25 January 1982
Brian BurkeLabor19 February 1983
Peter DowdingLabor25 February 1988
Dr Carmen LawrenceLabor12 February 1990
Richard CourtLiberal16 February 1993
Dr Geoffrey GallopLabor16 February 2001
  • 1. The premiers were not officially associated with organised parties until 1904.


  • Reid, G. S. and M. R. Oliver (1982). The Premiers of Western Australia 1890–1982. University of Western Australia Press. Nedlands, Western Australia. ISBN 0855642149.
  • The Constitution Centre of Western Australia (2002). Governors and Premiers of Western Australia ( West Perth, Western Australia. ISBN 0730738213.

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