As
is the nature of things in politics, within minutes of Gallop
announcing his intention to step down as both Premier and member for
his metropolitan seat of Victoria Park due to acute clinical
depression, the thoughts of his colleagues were elsewhere.

Gallop’s
resignation will cause not only a vacancy for the Leader’s position and
his seat but will also lead to a Cabinet reshuffle. Given the premature
nature of Gallop’s resignation, there is of course no heir apparent for
his seat. It will be some days before the field is formed and a
favourite apparent.

The
position of Premier is much clearer. There seems little doubt that the
job will go to Resources Minister, Alan Carpenter who as an Independent
is factionally unaligned. Carpenter will be elected because he is
widely regarded as the best candidate for the job. He is not without
obvious faults, not the least his uneven temperament which has resulted
in emotional outbursts in the past, particularly when personally
attacked.

As is often the case within political parties when
there is an unexpected resignation by the leader, such as in the cases
of Wran and Carr, the absence of an ideal replacement suddenly for the
first time becomes starkly apparent. The Western Australian
parliamentary Labor Party is in such a circumstance.

The three
other potential candidates are Deputy Leader, Treasurer and presently
acting Premier Eric Ripper, Police Minister Michelle Roberts and
Attorney General and Health Minister Jim McGinty. Ripper lacks the
panache and presence for the position, not to mention the support and
he will not stand whatever may be his hankering for the job.

Roberts,
a former State President of the ALP, takes her chances seriously but
nobody else does. As former Justice Minister, which portfolio was
stripped from her at the last election, she presided over a number of
blunders compounded by her inept management of those failings. Minister
Roberts will not stand.

The candidate most capable of capturing
enough numbers to win the spot from Carpenter is Jim McGinty from the
left. McGinty formally led the ALP while in opposition but stepped down
in favour of Gallop after a series of dire polls. His most ardent
supporters will not have forgotten his term as Leader and it is
doubtful that McGinty could muster the numbers were he and Carpenter to
both stand.

McGinty is the dominant Minister in the Gallop
government both through his numbers as chief Left factional warrior and
his performance in both Health and Attorney General’s. He also will not
have forgotten his term as Opposition Leader and in all probability he
will settle for continuing control of caucus without the Premiership.

McGinty
is a ruthless operator and he will maximize his decision not to stand
and his influence in caucus by pushing for the inclusion of a further
Left colleague into the Ministry and plum portfolios for others of his
faction.