McGowan in 2014
|30th Premier of Western Australia|
Elections: 2013, 2017
|Assumed office |
17 March 2017
|Governor||Kerry Sanderson |
|Preceded by||Colin Barnett|
|Leader of the Opposition in Western Australia|
23 January 2012 – 17 March 2017
|Preceded by||Eric Ripper|
|Succeeded by||Mike Nahan|
|Leader of the Labor Party in Western Australia|
|Assumed office |
23 January 2012
|Preceded by||Eric Ripper|
|Member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly for Rockingham|
|Assumed office |
14 December 1996
|Preceded by||Michael Barnett|
|Born||13 July 1967|
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
|Residence||Rockingham, Western Australia, Australia|
|Education||Coffs Harbour High School|
|Alma mater||University of Queensland|
|Years of service||1989–present|
|Awards||Commendation for Brave Conduct|
Mark McGowan (born 13 July 1967) is an Australian politician and, since 2017, the 30th Premier of Western Australia.
Born in Newcastle, McGowan was educated in country New South Wales before attending the University of Queensland. He subsequently worked as a legal officer for the Royal Australian Navy, serving at naval base HMAS Stirling, south of Perth. Remaining in Western Australia, McGowan served as a councillor at the City of Rockingham from 1994 until his election to the Legislative Assembly at the 1996 state election, representing the seat of Rockingham. After the 2005 election, he was elevated to the ministry, although he had served as a parliamentary secretary since the 2001 election. McGowan became leader of the Labor Party and opposition leader following Eric Ripper's resignation in January 2012, and led the party at its 2013 election defeat. While in opposition, McGowan held several shadow portfolios in addition to his role as opposition leader. McGowan led Labor to a landslide win at the 2017 election, and was sworn in by Governor Kerry Sanderson on 17 March 2017 as the 30th premier of Western Australia.
McGowan was born into a family of Irish descent in Newcastle, New South Wales and was educated at public schools in Coffs Harbour, before obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1987 and a Bachelor of Laws in 1989 from the University of Queensland. He joined the Australian Labor Party in 1984. In 1989, he joined the Australian Navy and served at the naval base HMAS Stirling. In 1996, he was awarded a Commendation for Brave Conduct, for actions he took as a naval officer in 1995 in rescuing an unconscious driver from a burning car.
In 1994, McGowan was elected to the City of Rockingham as a councillor, and in 1995, he became deputy mayor. He was preselected to run for the seat of Rockingham at the 1996 state election following the retirement of long-serving MP Mike Barnett.
At the 2001 election, Labor defeated the previous Liberal–National government, and McGowan was appointed parliamentary secretary to the premier. He also chaired the ANZAC Committee, the committee managing the State's 175th anniversary celebrations in 2004 and the Bali Memorial Steering Committee. In January 2005, following the retirement of federal Labor leader Mark Latham, McGowan was criticised for not telling Premier Geoff Gallop before taking leave to travel to Sydney with Kim Beazley, who was seeking the position. Gallop ordered him to return to Perth.
Following Labor's win at the 2005 election, Gallop reshuffled the ministry, giving McGowan the Tourism portfolio as well as Racing and Gaming, Youth, and Peel and the South West. In February, following Gallop's retirement, McGowan became the Environment Minister while retaining Racing and Gaming but losing all others — notably Tourism to Sheila McHale, Youth to David Templeman and South West to Norm Marlborough.
On 13 December 2006, following Marlborough's departure from the Carpenter ministry and Ljiljanna Ravlich's troubled run in the Education portfolio, McGowan became Minister for Education and Training and for the South West. In the Education portfolio, he oversaw the replacement of outcomes-based education with syllabus (scope and sequence) documents, re-established traditional forms of marking and reporting and launched a renewed effort towards the attraction and retention of teachers.
In April 2008 McGowan came under fire when he referred to an ex-Labor MP John D'Orazio as "the worst ethnic branch stacker in the history of Labor in WA". McGowan later apologised to anyone who took offence to the remark. McGowan was again in the media spotlight after it was revealed that he had dealings with Brian Burke during the 2005 state election. A copy of an email showed that he had consulted with Burke over fundraising.
Following the defeat of the Labor Party at the 2008 state election and Carpenter's resignation as leader of the Labor Party, McGowan was one of several contenders to replace him. Ultimately, he did not contest, and Eric Ripper was elected unopposed; however, McGowan contested the deputy role, which he lost to newcomer Roger Cook in a 30–9 vote. McGowan was awarded a place in the shadow ministry as shadow minister for State Development, Trade, Planning, Housing and Works and also managed opposition business in the Legislative Assembly.
McGowan led Labor into the 2013 state election. Labor suffered a 5.4 percent two-party swing and a loss of five seats, including that of former leader Ripper. McGowan was not blamed for the loss, and stayed on as opposition leader.
Polling since the 2013 state election landslide consistently showed a large swing away from the second-term Barnett Liberal government, with the Newspoll conducted from October to December 2015 and released in January 2016, revealing that the government trailed the Labor opposition significantly, at 47–53 two-party—a double-digit two-party swing of more than 10 points since the 2013 election, with Labor's 33 percent primary vote increasing to a current 42 percent. Just prior to the 2013 election, Barnett was nominated Better Premier with a 21-point lead on 52 percent, with an approval rating of 51 percent and a disapproval rating of 36 percent. Since then, McGowan consistently led Barnett as Better Premier by several percentage points, with Barnett's approval rating consistently low.
At the 2017 state election, McGowan led WA Labor to one of the most comprehensive victories on record at the state or territory level since Federation. Labor went on to win 41 of the 59 seats available on 55.5 percent of the two-party vote and a 20-seat swing, unseating six members of Barnett's cabinet, including Nationals leader Brendon Grylls. Labor also unseated a seventh minister, who sat in the Legislative Council. Not only was this WA Labor's strongest performance ever in terms of both seat count and percentage of seats controlled, but it is the largest majority government in Western Australian history.
McGowan's victory was due in large part to a massive swing in Perth. Labor had gone into the election holding 17 of the capital's 43 seats. However, according to the ABC's Antony Green, many of the Liberals in Perth's outer suburbs sat on inflated margins. Green concluded that for that reason, the 10-point swing Labor needed to make McGowan Premier was not as daunting as it appeared. Many of those seats fell to Labor on swings of over 10 points; overall, Labor took 34 seats in Perth on a 13.6-point swing.
He was sworn in by the Governor and became the 30th premier of Western Australia on 17 March 2017. Early in his premiership, McGowan promptly moved to limit the number of pathways for foreign workers to enter the state and re-committed to terminating the controversial Perth Freight Link highway project.
In 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic McGowan closed the state's borders on 5 April. In July 2020 businessman Clive Palmer claimed that the closing of the borders was unconstitutional and launched a legal challenge in the Federal Court. In response McGowan labelled Palmer an "enemy of the state". Shortly afterward McGowan's popularity increased to record highs in Western Australia. In January 2021, McGowan criticized the New South Wales government's response and attitude towards the pandemic.
McGowan is married and has three children.
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The two-party preferred count is based on estimates for Baldivis, Moore and Roe. Actual two-party preferred counts for these seats will be available at a later date.
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- Official Western Australia Cabinet site
- Official Australian Labor Party site
- Parliament of Western Australia site
|Western Australian Legislative Assembly|
| Member for Rockingham
| Leader of the Opposition
| Premier of Western Australia
|Party political offices|
| Leader of the Labor Party in Western Australia