Labor MPs are set to debate who will replace Mark McGowan as Western Australia’s premier after being blindsided by his sudden resignation.
Mr McGowan will step down as premier and treasurer within days after deciding to call time on almost three decades in parliament, citing exhaustion.
Members of WA Labor’s dominant left faction will meet on Tuesday to determine whether they can reach consensus on a leadership candidate.
Channel 9’s Michael Genovese spoke to Lisa & Russell, and explained how yesterday took journalists by complete surprise and what’s expected to happen now, particularly that McGowan will wrap things up in just days.
Hit PLAY to listen in…
Deputy Premier Roger Cook has declared he will run for the job but is expected to face a contest from health minister and fellow left faction member Amber-Jade Sanderson, who is yet to publicly reveal her intentions.
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti, who is not aligned to a faction, has confirmed she is also sounding out colleagues.
Mr Cook, who served as health minister during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and now holds the state development, jobs and trade portfolios, talked up his credentials as a “key economic minister”.
“As his deputy and someone who’s been acting premier on many occasions, I feel I know what is required to be premier,” Mr Cook told Perth radio 6PR.
“I have the energy, I have the experience and I think I have the support of the wide majority of the Labor Party.”
Ms Sanderson only became a cabinet minister in 2021, initially taking the environment and commerce portfolios before taking on health.
Mr Cook said he had been left “incredibly shocked” by Mr McGowan’s resignation, confirming he only learned of the premier’s decision at a cabinet meeting on Monday shortly before it was announced.
If the party is unable to settle on a candidate, it will have to canvass rank-and-file members in a process that could take weeks.
“I think people would be keen to find a consensus candidate,” Mr Cook said.
Mr McGowan said the role of political leadership was relentless and the COVID-19 years had exhausted him.
“I just don’t have the energy or drive that is required to continue in the role as premier or to fight that election, which would have been my eighth election as a member of parliament,” he said, referring to the next state poll in 2025.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was among those who paid tribute to Mr McGowan following his announcement.
“He has been a great premier of his proud state, an extraordinary leader for WA Labor and a trusted friend,” he said.