ID 0241

State Government of Western Australia beginning 13 March 1990 - period in office of Premier Lawrence, Carmen Mary ending on 16 February 1993

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

Lawrence, Carmen Mary
Date of beginning of period in office
13 March 1990
Date of end of period in office
16 February 1993 
Reason for end of preceding period in office
Change of party leader 
Reason for end of this government
Loss of general election
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
13 April 1991
Defection by Party Members
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 6 February 1993Carmen Mary LawrenceAustralian Labor PartyRichard Fairfax CourtLiberal Party

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Change of party leader (Dowding): Beginning of Lawrence's period in office: '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', Franz Oswald, 'Western Australia', Australian Journal of Politics and History, Political Chronicle, 36(3) December 1990: 446-452, at 446.

'On January 1990 a former government adviser was convicted and fined over a matter involving [the] "WA Inc affair"; the conviction was later quashed. Dowding and Parker resigned as leader and deputy leader on 12 February 1990....', Hughes, p. 151 (see 'Sources', below).

'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. Education minister Dr Carmen Lawrence became the first female premier in Australia', Franz Oswald, 'Western Australia', Australian Journal of Politics and History, Political Chronicle, 36(3) December 1990: 446-452, at 447.

On 12 February 1990, Lawrence became Premier of an Australian Labor Party majority government.

Change in parliamentary support: After disagreements within the Labor caucus in January 1991 over ministerial positions, Pam Buchanan resigned from the Labor Party early in February to sit as an Independent. Jeff Carr, a former Labor minister, resigned from the Legislative Assembly on 28 February and the resulting by-election on 13 April 1991 was won by a Liberal candidate. After the provision of the Speaker, this denied the government a party majority in the Legislative Assembly, a predicament made worse by the defection of another Labor Party member, Ian Alexander, to sit as an Independent. By the end of April 1991, Lawrence was Premier of an Australian Labor Party minority government. For more information on these and related events, see Franz Oswald and David Black, 'Western Australia', Australian Journal of Politics and History, Political Chronicle, 37(3) December 1991: 496-501.

Loss of general election: The Lawrence Australian Labor Party government was defeated at the general election for the Legislative Assembly on 6 February 1993; Lawrence resigned as Premier on 16 February 1993.

References: 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).