WA Premier McGowan looking forward to ‘ordinary life’

Mark McGowan says he has no regrets or second thoughts about quitting politics.

Mark McGowan says he has no regrets or second thoughts about quitting politics. Photo: Getty

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan says he has no regrets over his decision to resign and is looking forward to being an “ordinary person”, watching Netflix and walking the dog.

Mr McGowan dropped a bombshell on Monday, saying he was exhausted and would retire from politics by the week’s end.

The announcement shocked colleagues and citizens alike as the Labor Party entered two days of factional talks before anointing Mr McGowan’s deputy, Roger Cook, as the premier-elect.

As he arrived for his last day in the top job on Friday, the state’s 30th premier was thankful and resolute about his decision to stand down.

“My main emotion to be honest with you is just gratitude and thanks for what everyone has done for me and what the state has done for me,” Mr McGowan told reporters outside his office.

“I will always, always feel that.”

Asked what he intended to do during the next few weeks, the 55-year-old who became premier in a landslide election win in 2017, said he had no plans other than to watch Netflix and relax at home.

“Our dog is going to get a lot of walking,” he said.

The father of three said he was still getting used to the idea of a new life outside politics after 30 years as the Member for Rockingham and a local councillor.

“No second thoughts … That’s a good thing actually … I’m not regretting it,” he said.

“I just want to go to being a quiet, ordinary person.

“That is my ambition to be an ordinary person and just live an ordinary life.”

Mr McGowan, who hasn’t faced the media since announcing his retirement, threw his support behind Mr Cook and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti, who is expected to become deputy leader.

“Roger and Rita are terrific and I think they’ll do a great job,” he said.

Mr Cook is expected to be officially elected WA Labor’s leader and premier on Tuesday, when the party caucus meets.

He will stand unopposed after Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson withdrew from the race “in the interests of unity and stability”.

She was initially backed by the United Workers Union over Mr Cook before the veteran politician secured support from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the party’s right faction.

Under constitutional arrangements, Mr McGowan will now take leave and Mr Cook will become acting premier until Thursday, when he will be sworn in.

“At that point in time I’ve officially resigned and am no longer a member of parliament,” Mr McGowan said.

The NSW-born former Navy lawyer became a household name during the COVID-19 pandemic when he closed WA’s borders and kept them shut for almost 700 days.

Beloved by most West Australians for effectively stamping out the transmission of the virus and averting the prolonged lockdowns endured by other states, he drew the ire of many outside the state, including fellow state premiers to federal Liberal MPs and Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce.

Mr McGowan then rode his extraordinary personal popularity to a crushing Labor victory in the 2021 election which reduced the opposition to a handful of seats.


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