former Labor premier Geoff Gallop would appreciate the fact that he’d scored a
hat trick for his party. He’s the third
WA Labor leader in the past 19-years to resign his position, when at the peak
The first to
walk was Brian Burke, who, in late 1987, surprised his party by departing the
political stage. Soon after he relocated
to Dublin in the dual ambassadorial post of Australia’s representative to Eire and the Vatican,
courtesy of Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
Then came the
now forgotten Ian Taylor who took over Labor’s reins in early 1993, after the
Carmen Lawrence-led government was toppled by Liberal Richard Court.
Mr Taylor only
lasted as opposition leader for nine months; from February until October 1994.
And this week
came the hat trick with Dr Gallop’s departure because of acute depression.
All three were
relatively young which has understandably led some to ponder whether it is
the premiership that’s so arduous or if the WA Labor Party is too difficult to handle.
performance of the three remaining Labor leaders during those 19-years has been somewhat short of spectacular.
First came Peter
Dowding who was slipped into the job by Mr Burke since he was judged to be the
most telegenic and therefore most likely to win the 1989 election, which he
did, but only narrowly.
However, the party
showed no gratitude – within a year of election day he was dumped by his cabinet
over his acerbic manner.
His successor, Carmen
Lawrence, lost the 1993 election and soon after heeded Labor Prime Minister
Paul Keating’s calls to go to Canberra.
After her, in
opposition, came Ian Taylor followed by Jim McGinty who held on for two years. He was dumped
when the party discovered, to its horror that it was set to be electorally wiped-out
by the Court-led Liberals.
Secret polling had
shown most voters could not stomach Mr McGinty. Several
high-level party meetings convinced Mr McGinty to stand aside for Dr Gallop,
who, despite only having two months to prepare for the election managed to
deflect the expected electoral wipe-out.
Dr Gallop’s December
1996 performance was consequently deemed to have been credible which is why he remained
in the job until the 2001 election that he won in a landslide.