On Father’s Day this year, the state Labor Party posted “Happy Father’s Day to our State Dad”. He went viral for a video talking about kebabs. He enjoys extremely high popularity ratings. So, who is WA Premier Mark McGowan?
McGowan wasn’t actually born in the state of WA. He was born in Newcastle, NSW, and later moved to WA. In 1989, he joined the Royal Australian Navy, reaching the rank of Lieutenant and then worked as a legal officer for the Navy.
In the early 90s, McGowan was elected to local council, and in 1995, became Deputy Mayor of the City of Rockingham Council. Soon after, he was preselected by the Labor Party to run in the seat of Rockingham. McGowan has held that seat since 1996.
During his time in Parliament, McGowan has held a variety of roles, including Minister for Tourism, Minister for the Environment, Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Racing and Gaming and many more. In 2012, when Labor was in opposition (having lost the last election), McGowan was elevated to Leader of the Opposition, a role he held until the 2017 election.
McGowan became the Premier of Western Australia following Labor’s 2017 election victory, when the party won 41 of 59 seats.
Last year’s state election was held against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and record support for state premiers. McGowan’s approval ratings were so high before the election that Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup took the unprecedented step of conceding the election (usually a practice for after the votes have been counted) a fortnight before the election was held. McGowan’s government won the biggest victory ever achieved by a political party (at a state level), winning 53 out of 59 seats.
Now, Mark McGowan is in the news because of his decision to commit to ‘COVID zero’. With news yesterday that the SA Government was considering dropping its border arrangements with NSW and Victoria, McGowan said “we’ll most likely close to the jurisdiction”. Last week, McGowan said WA could remain closed to NSW residents for Christmas, regardless of their vaccine status. Currently, WA’s vaccine rate is the second-lowest in the country.