Western Australia’s premiership stakes have become a two horse race. Just before yesterday’s
cabinet meeting, Police Minister and Right faction powerbroker, Michelle Roberts,
announced she’d thrown her hat into the ring.

And straight
after the meeting, factionally unaligned Energy Minister but odds on favourite,
Alan Carpenter, said he wouldn’t be sitting around in the stables either.

Ms Roberts’
entry into the race means the Left-Right Strategic Alliance that has made her
and Mr McGinty Labor’s kingmakers since 2001, when Dr Gallop led the party into
power, has been shattered, at least for the time being.

Only time will
tell exactly what her bid to follow in the footsteps of the state’s first woman premier,
Carmen Lawrence, will mean for the Strategic Alliance. Until Ms Roberts
revealed herself as a contender, pundits had been confident that there would be no race given that Mr
Carpenter, a former TV journalist, seemed set to be anointed as Geoff Gallop’s
replacement.

Then Roberts announced that she would be making a bid to become the state’s second woman premier
with her Right faction – once led by ex-premier, Brian Burke – set to back her
all the way. “Yes, I can
confirm I am a candidate,” Ms Roberts told reporters. “And I hope to
earn the respect of my colleagues.”

Although beaten
to the punch, the far more telegenic Mr Carpenter later announced, outside cabinet,
that his hat was also in the ring.

“I don’t have a
big factional base,” Mr Carpenter said. “There’s a lot
of work to do for a person like me trying to get the numbers, but I want to be
straightforward with people and honest with people – I would like to have the
job.

“From the time I
decided to quit journalist and go into politics I knew that I would never die
wondering – I don’t intend to die wondering this time,” he told reporters. “I haven’t had
to do deals. I don’t owe people favours. I don’t own anybody anything. I think I’ll be
offering them the opportunity for us to win the next election – think about
that, that’s not a bad offer.”

With five days
to go before Tuesday morning’s party room ballot anything can still happen.

Acting premier,
Eric Ripper, certainly believes so. “By the time we
get to Tuesday we may indeed have a consensus,” he told reporters.

But the
premiership stakes could just as easily be transformed into a three horse race
since there’s still a dark horse in the stable – Attorney-General and Left
faction powerbroker, Jim McGinty.

Asked after
cabinet if he was a starter Mr McGinty said: “Oh, we’ll wait and see.”

Peter Fray

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