WA Cabinet reshuffle makes real (and common) sense

Government, Government Relations, Parliament, Politics, Western Australia

Richard Harris 13 Dec 2018
3 mins
Bill Johnston now has Energy in his portfolios.

Premier Mark McGowan’s announcement today of a mid-term reshuffle of his cabinet should be welcome news – particularly for anyone involved in the energy industry.

For nearly two years of Mr McGowan’s premiership, Mines and Petroleum sat with Bill Johnston, while Energy was with Treasurer Ben Wyatt.

The same split had existed as part of the previous Liberal government and in my opinion it never really worked, given that delivering energy in WA is a continuous process.

The Mining and Petroleum portfolio contains the upstream elements of our oil and gas resources; Energy holds the downstream delivery into electricity and gas markets.

Finally putting the two of them together will only streamline processes in what I think are the two key portfolios for WA.

I would like to thank Ben Wyatt for his initiative in electricity reform, especially freeing up access to Western Power’s grid. But the Energy portfolio didn’t sit well in Treasury, which has priorities that don’t always align with energy market objectives.

The reshuffle also moves Electoral Affairs, Commerce and Asian Engagement off Mr Johnston’s plate and on to Stephen Dawson, John Quigley and Peter Tinley respectively.

Again, this makes sense – given the importance of his portfolios, it’s a smart move to have Mr Johnston’s ministerial responsibilities aligned and more focussed.

I can speak on behalf of both the DomGas Alliance and the WA Independent Power Association and say that a one-stop minister’s shop for energy matters will be welcomed.

The other major takeaway from the changes is that Mr McGowan clearly wants to free Rita Saffioti up to concentrate on Metronet and other major transport initiatives.

Metronet is a major piece of infrastructure, not to mention one of Labor’s flagship policy pieces, and I’m not surprised to see some of Ms Saffioti’s previous responsibilities spread elsewhere.

Lands has gone to Ben Wyatt but the move that might prompt the most interest is Alannah MacTiernan taking on the Ports portfolio.

Ms MacTiernan’s background in infrastructure links in nicely and given the largely regional nature of our ports, it’s a good fit with her ongoing role as Minister for Regional Development and Agriculture and Food.

Labor has been keen to paint today’s changes as only “minor” ones but I think we can expect some major impacts from them.

It’s a very rational allocation of portfolios and I’m sure it will lead to good results in the future.

Mark McGowan’s Cabinet:

Hon Mark McGowan MLA Premier; Minister for Public Sector Management; State Development, Jobs and Trade; Federal-State Relations
Hon Roger Cook MLA Deputy Premier; Minister for Health; Mental Health
Hon Sue Ellery MLC Minister for Education and Training
Hon Stephen Dawson MLC Minister for Environment; Disability Services; Electoral Affairs
Hon Michelle Roberts MLA Minister for Police; Road Safety
Hon Alannah MacTiernan MLC Minister for Regional Development; Agriculture and Food; Ports; Minister Assisting the Minister for State Development, Jobs and Trade
Hon Francis Logan MLA Minister for Emergency Services; Corrective Services
Hon David Templeman MLA Minister for Local Government; Heritage; Culture and the Arts
Hon John Quigley MLA Attorney General; Commerce
Hon Mick Murray MLA Minister for Seniors and Ageing; Volunteering; Sport and Recreation
Hon Ben Wyatt MLA Treasurer; Minister for Finance; Aboriginal Affairs; Lands
Hon Paul Papalia MLA Minister for Tourism; Racing and Gaming; Small Business; Defence Issues; Citizenship and Multicultural Interests
Hon Bill Johnston MLA Minister for Energy; Mines and Petroleum; Industrial Relations
Hon Rita Saffioti MLA Minister for Transport and Planning
Hon Peter Tinley MLA Minister for Housing; Veterans Issues; Youth; Asian Engagement
Hon Simone McGurk MLA Minister for Child Protection; Women’s Interests; Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence; Community Services
Hon Dave Kelly MLA Minister for Water; Fisheries; Forestry; Innovation and ICT; Science


Richard Harris is the chairperson of the WA Independent Power Association, spokesperson for DomGas Alliance and Special Counsel at Cannings Purple, specialising in energy and resources and government relations. Contact Richard.

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Richard has several decades of experience in WA’s energy and resources sectors at strategic project and policy development level, in both the private and public sectors. Richard worked for more than 20 years in senior levels of government in both the federal and state jurisdictions, and has an extensive network with senior bureaucrats and politicians.

Richard’s roles in the private sector have included WA Director of ERM Power and Managing Director of Mid West Energy. Richard also chairs the WA Independent Power Association.

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