Mark McGowan quits as WA premier

Mark McGowan jokes about replacing 'Kochie' as he quits as premier

An “exhausted” Mark McGowan has quit as Western Australian premier, citing fatigue after more than six years in the state’s top job, including fighting the pandemic.

Mr McGowan, who has led WA Labor since 2012, revealed his decision in a shock announcement on Monday.

At a media briefing called with just 45 minutes notice, he said he would also quit the parliament by the end of this week.

“I have loved the role, I have loved being able to deliver on our agenda for the benefit of our state. I have loved the challenge of solving problems, making decisions, getting outcomes, and helping people,” Mr McGowan said.

“But the truth is I’m tired, extremely tired. In fact, I’m exhausted. The role of political leadership does not stop, it is relentless. With huge responsibility but it is all consuming, each and every day. And combined with the COVID-19 years, it has taken it out of me.”

The 55-year-old former Navy lawyer, who shepherded WA through COVID, led Labor to crushing election victories in 2017 and 2021, the latter securing his party the biggest parliamentary majority in the state’s history.

He had previously insisted he would serve out the remainder of his second term as premier before considering his future.

He made Monday’s announcement flanked by members of his ministry.

Mr McGowan said it had been “an honour and privilege” to serve the people of WA for more than 26 years in state parliament.

“It is way beyond what I could ever have imagined my career would amount to,” he said.

“I stand here today and I know our state is in the position I set out to reach. We have the strongest economy in Australia in one of the strongest in the world.”

Mr McGowan also listed securing “a fair share of the GST”, funding healthcare and police, and a major expansion of Perth’s public transport as his major achievements.

He said he was convinced Labor could win the next state election – which is not due until March 2025 – but he did not have the energy to fight it.

“The truth is I’m tired, extremely tired. In fact, I’m exhausted. The role of political leadership does not stop, it is relentless,” he said.

“I just don’t have the energy or drive that is required to continue in the role as premier. Or to fight that election, which would have been my eighth election as a member of parliament.”

Deputy Premier Roger Cook and Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson are considered likely frontrunners to take over from Mr McGowan.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Mr McGowan had informed him of his decision.

“Mark leaves office as he led, on his own terms, and as his own man,” he said.

“He has been a great premier of his proud state, an extraordinary leader for WA Labor and a trusted friend.”

Mr Albanese said Mr McGowan would be remembered for stewarding WA through COVID.

“In unprecedented times, Mark always held to his convictions and always sought to do the right thing by his state,” he said.

“While it’s true the sheer scale of his final election victory earned him a place in Australian political history, I know Mark’s definition of success has always been about delivering for people, improving lives and creating progress that endures. He has done all this in spades.”

-with AAP

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