The jockeying for the WA Labor leadership has already moved up a notch with rumours circulating that the man most favoured for the position, State Development and Energy Minister Alan Carpenter, may be handicapped by what has been dubbed the “Latham Factor.”

In Labor ranks you’re known as a Latham Factor sinner if you’re sometimes short-wicked, speak your mind to the media and occasionally make unexpected comments – all characteristics definitely possessed by Mr Carpenter.

Who’s most likely to benefit from such rumours? Another likely challenger – Left-wing powerbroker and former and failed Labor leader Jim McGinty.

When asked about his aspirations yesterday, Mr McGinty showed anything but the LF. “It’s not a question of that; it’s a question of who would be best,” he said. “I’d be very happy to throw my weight behind either Michele Roberts or Alan Carpenter if the consensus is they’d make the best premier.”

But ever the realist, McGinty knows he’ll probably be told he’s unacceptable to most colleagues, even though he’s far and away the most powerful Gallop government minister. As Health Minister, Attorney-General and Minister for Electoral Affairs he has his fingers in all the crucial political pies.

But his record as former leader won’t serve him well – two months before the December 1996 election a Labor poll showed Mr McGinty was set to take the party to a disastrous defeat with even several safe seats likely to be lost. He simply had to go. And that’s what he agreed to do without fuss.

As for Dr Gallop, he won’t be poverty stricken outside politics. He qualifies for a lump sum payout of about $2.3 million or a twice yearly indexed pension that currently stands at $175,500.

Peter Fray

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