Although Alan Carpenter is
being tipped by political pundits – including former Labor premier
Brian Burke – to be the next Western Australian premier, an element of
doubt still remains. The reason is the Byzantine machinations of what
is known as The Strategic Alliance.

This beast was recently born
with the palling-up of the Left faction headed by long-time powerbroker
and Attorney-General Jim McGinty and the Right faction led by Police
Minister, Michelle Roberts. What they and their advisers decide becomes
law in WA.

Outgoing premier Geoff Gallop was, in fact, front man
for The Strategic Alliance because he was telegenic, a quality lacking
in McGinty and Roberts. Alan Carpenter knows that, despite being
unaligned, like Dr Gallop, his longest and strongest suit is his
telegenic quality – in fact that’s the main quality he’s got to bargain

So what’s set to happen over the next 48-or-so hours is
that both he and The Strategic Alliance will lay down their cards on
the table. And then it will be a matter of reaching a workable

If The Strategic Alliance’s two puppeteers push for
too much – like obedience without delay – Mr Carpenter will walk away.
If he pushes too hard, the puppeteers will walk off.

Should the
former occur there’s a real problem for The Strategic Alliance; which
of the un-telegenic puppeteers takes the job or should another
candidate be drafted? That would be very hard to swallow because it
would effectively mean the modus operandi of the past five years goes
up in smoke since half The Strategic Alliance would hold the
premiership. So there’s a lot at stake.

Of course, the fear of
this happening – the effective bust-up of The Strategic Alliance – puts
an extra-powerful card into Mr Carpenter’s hand.
Mr Carpenter
returned to Perth on Tuesday and was understandably guarded about the
most important card game he’s ever likely to play.

“I’ve been
away for four weeks; I got notified of this Monday evening Perth time.
Yesterday morning I got on the plane and I haven’t had time to really
digest what’s happened and what is being considered now for the
future,” he told the waiting press.

“I really need to go home. I haven’t had a sleep. I need to have a shower, to get my kids home, my kids are exhausted.”