opinion

Joe Spagnolo: A reminder to Labor about putting WA first

Joe SpagnoloThe West Australian
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Well, Mr Albanese, you wanted more Labor representation from WA? You’ve got it.
Camera IconWell, Mr Albanese, you wanted more Labor representation from WA? You’ve got it. Credit: David Gray/Getty Images

Well, Mr Albanese, you wanted more Labor representation from WA? You’ve got it.

An extra four Federal Labor seats to be exact. In fact, of the 15 Federal seats here in WA, you now hold nine (This is not a misprint).

How many WA Labor Federal ministers do we get in Canberra?

In the lead-up to last Saturday’s Federal Election, Albanese ducked and weaved on the issue of how many WA Federal MPs would get a gig in his Cabinet, should be become prime minister.

During the election campaign, Albanese said the only Federal WA Labor MP to be a certain starter in his cabinet was Brand MP Madeleine King.

In an interview I did with Albanese last month I posed this question: “Here in WA you have only guaranteed Madeleine King as a certain starter in your cabinet. Doesn’t WA deserve more than one minister in your cabinet?”

Albanese replied: “Yes, but we need more members from WA as well. I think WA has an outstanding team. We need more members (of parliament). We have the quality. All we need is the quantity.”

WA delivered big for Albanese last weekend. The wild west — which usually votes Liberal at Federal elections — swung towards Albanese’s Labor Party to the tune of more than 10 per cent.

Not only did Labor pick up Pearce, Swan and Hasluck but knocked off Morrison’s right-hand man in WA, Tangney’s Ben Morton.

Pictures of Liberal party candidate Ben Morton after voting in Applecross, Perth.
Camera IconBen Morton was dumped by voters in Tangney. Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian

As you’d imagine, Federal WA Labor MPs have been hitting the phones this week trying to secure a position in Albo’s Cabinet. There are about 30 positions up for grabs.

In addition, there are several other assistant ministerial jobs going (we call them parliamentary secretaries in the WA Parliament).

Prior to this election, King was in Albanese’s shadow cabinet. She was responsible for trade and resources.

Burt Labor MP Matt Keogh was in Albanese’s outer shadow ministry, taking on defence industry and small business responsibilities.

So you’d expect Keogh to be part of Albanese’s Cabinet — or outer ministry.

Perth MP Patrick Gorman and Fremantle MP Josh Wilson were shadow assistant ministers, as were senators Patrick Dodson, Glenn Sterle and Louise Pratt.

You’d expect them to be in the running for at least assistant minister positions.

And Cowan MP Anne Aly has already made her intentions clear, saying publicly she would also like to be a minister.

When I covered the 2013 Federal Election, when Tony Abbott became PM, much was made about the WA fire-power in Canberra.

Julie Bishop, David Johnston, Mathias Cormann, Michael Keenan and Michaelia Cash were in Abbott’s Cabinet and outer ministry team.

But in those dark years from 2013 to 2018, when WA was on its knees in terms of dwindling GST dollars, WA-based Federal ministers were silent on this issue.

In one of the last interviews I did with Scott Morrison, I asked him who was responsible for the stupid decision to back Clive Palmer in the High Court to fight WA’s hard borders — a decision that would play a massive role in the defeat of the Liberals here in WA last Saturday night.

He replied: “It has always been normal protocol that in Constitutional cases of this matter, the Federal government assisted the court in participating.

“That is a standard process that is followed by governments of all persuasions at all times and that’s done through Cabinet, on the advice of the Attorney-General.”

Maybe I missed it, but I can’t remember any WA Liberal Federal ministers publicly speaking out against that stupid High Court decision after it was made.

If there is a lesson to be learnt from last Saturday’s result, it is that West Australians expect their own to stick up for WA in Canberra.

And WA voters expect their Federal representatives to continue servicing their electorates.

Labor Federal MPs about to hit the big-time should remember that.

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