Yesterday saw the finishing touches put in place that will guarantee Energy
Minister and former TV journalist, Alan Carpenter, a dream
run to become Western Australia’s 28th premier at tomorrow’s Caucus
meeting.

Once Geoff Gallop announced his departure because of acute
depression, the exercise was always going to be a case of rallying the boys and girls around
the Carpenter flag, and as promptly as possible.

The only hiccup was a belated and futile move by accident-prone Police
Minister and leader of the Right faction, Michelle Roberts, who, for
reasons best known to her, thought she had the numbers. Everything
about her bid was disastrous.

She couldn’t even give the media a simple answer when announcing her
candidacy as to why she aspired to the post. And then, on Friday, when asked
if she’d been in contact with the bete noire of WA Labor politics,
former WA Inc Premier Brian Burke, she found the question difficult to
answer.

But answer it she did. “Have you spoken to Brian Burke?” one reporter
asked. “I, eh, I have spoken to Brian, he contacted me, and that, and
I’ve asked, asked for his support,” Ms Roberts said.

Premier-designate Alan Carpenter’s key number crunchers were the Left’s
leader, Attorney-General Jim McGinty and Treasurer and deputy
premier Eric Ripper for the Centrists, with his reward being
retention of the deputy’s post.

That left Ms Roberts without oxygen. Her bid also means the
longstanding Strategic Alliance between her Right and the McGinty-led
Left, which underpinned Dr Gallop’s two governments, has gone up in
smoke.

But this may not be all bad news since the Right’s parliamentary wing
has been split for over five years into an Old and a New Right camp,
with Ms Roberts in the forefront of the latter. The smaller Old
Rightist group identifies with Mr Burke and his involvement in Ms
Roberts’s failed campaign suggests the rupture may at long last be
healing.

If so, a unified Right will have greater sway in ongoing intra-party
brawls even though the premiership eluded them because Mr Carpenter,
like Dr Gallop, was far more telegenic and media savvy than Ms Roberts.