Loss of general election (O'Connor): Beginning of Burke's period in office: The O'Connor Liberal Party and National Country Party coalition government was defeated at the general election for the Legislative Assembly on 19 February 1983; Premier O'Connor resigned on 25 February 1983 and Burke was commissioned as Premier of an Australian Labor Party majority government.
Change of party leader: While the involvement of the Burke government in failed business activities in what was to become known as 'WA Inc' had yet to develop into a political scandal, Burke chose to resign from office and from the Legislative Assembly. 'Late in December , Premier Burke and Deputy Premier Mal Bryce announced their resignation as of 25 February 1988, the fifth anniversary of Burke’s premiership. A secret opinion poll commissioned in March 1987 had shown that a [Peter] Dowding/[David] Parker combination would have the strongest electoral appeal. The weight of Burke’s influence, the opinion poll, and the need to demonstrate party unity prevailed upon Education Minister [Robert] Pearce and Agriculture Minister [Julian] Grill who stood aside. On Wednesday, 30 December , the ALP caucus unanimously accepted Dowding as Premier and Parker as Deputy'. Franz Oswald, 'Western Australia', Australian Journal of Politics and History, Political Chronicle, 34(2) August 1988: 229-233, at 231-232.
References: For a study of the style of parliamentary politics during this period, see Harry Phillips, 'The Modern Parliament, 1965-1989', in David Black (editor), The House on the Hill: A History of the Parliament of Western Australia 1832-1990, pp 185-262, particularly pp 227-246, (Perth: Western Australian Parliamentary History Project, Parliament of Western Australia, 1991, ISBN 0730939839), and note Jeremy Moon and Christine Fletcher, 'Does Mr Burke Make a Difference? New Government and Policy Change in Western Australia 1983-1987', Politics: Journal of the Australasian Studies Association, 23 (1) May 1988: 78-89.
The Australian Journal of Politics and History has provided brief surveys of Western Australian politics since 1956 in the 'Political Chronicle' section of the journal in issues of each annual volume. This publication can be viewed online through Wiley-Blackwell Journals at subscribing libraries.
Colin A Hughes, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1975-1984, (Sydney: Australian National University Press, 1986, ISBN 008033038X); Colin A Hughes, A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1985-1999, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2002); John Mandy and David Black (editors),The Western Australian Parliamentary Handbook Centenary Edition, (Perth: Parliamentary History Project, Parliament of Western Australia, 1990, ISBN 0731697847).