ID 0240

State Government of Western Australia beginning 25 February 1988 - period in office of Premier Dowding, Peter McCallum ending on 13 March 1990

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

Dowding, Peter McCallum
Date of beginning of period in office
25 February 1988
Date of end of period in office
13 March 1990 
Reason for end of preceding period in office
Change of party leader 
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 4 February 1989Peter McCallum DowdingAustralian Labor PartyPeter McCallum DowdingAustralian Labor Party

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Change of party leader (Burke): Beginning of Dowding's period in office: 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.

Dowding was commissioned on 25 February as Premier of an Australian Labor Party majority government.

Change of party leader (Dowding): 'West Australian politics in the first half of 1990 were still strongly influenced by the effects of the collapse of Rothwells Merchant Bank in 1988, the failure of the Petrochemical project in Kwinana (PIL), and other consequences of the involvement of the state government in business activities, commonly summarized as 'WA Inc' which the Burke government had started in 1983. The ALP government tried to distance itself from WA Inc through another change of premier, only two years after Peter Dowding had replaced Brian Burke for similar reasons....

... Peter Dowding became the first Labor premier in WA to be forced out of office mid-term.... A majority of the forty-seven member Labor caucus had signed a letter publicized on 7 February [1990] calling on Dowding to step down. A caucus meeting on Monday 12 February saw the resignation of both Premier Dowding and his deputy, David Parker', Franz Oswald, 'Western Australia', Australian Journal of Politics and History, Political Chronicle, 36(3) December 1990: 446-452, at 446-447.

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).

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 1985-1999, (Sydney: Federation Press, 2002).