ID 0239

State Government of Western Australia beginning 25 February 1983 - period in office of Premier Burke, Brian Thomas ending on 25 February 1988

Period in office of premier (see Glossary entry for 'period in office' and related terms)

Burke, Brian Thomas
Date of beginning of period in office
25 February 1983
Date of end of period in office
25 February 1988 
Reason for end of preceding period in office
Loss of general election 
Reason for end of this government
Change of party leader
Number of days in office

Parliamentary support during period

Party affiliation of premier at start of period
Australian Labor Party
If coalition government
Coalition partner 1
Coalition partner 2
Coalition partner 3
Coalition partner 4
Party support in parliament at beginning of period
If change in parliamentary support during period
If further change during period

Number of ministers at beginning of period (this may vary during the period)

Total number of ministers
Number from party of premier
Number from coalition party 1
Number from coalition party 2
Number from upper house
Number who are women

Assembly elections contested as premier or after which became premier (see Glossary entry for 'after election')

* to view table drag left or right.
Election Premier at election Premier's party Premier after election Premier's party
WA 8 February 1986Brian Thomas BurkeAustralian Labor PartyBrian Thomas BurkeAustralian Labor Party
WA 19 February 1983Raymond James O'ConnorLiberal PartyBrian Thomas BurkeAustralian Labor Party

Previous period in this series for WA | Next period in this series for WA


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 [1987], 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 [1987], 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).