ID 0298

State Government of Western Australia beginning 23 September 2008 - period in office of Premier Barnett, Colin James ending on 16 March 2017

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

Barnett, Colin James
Date of beginning of period in office
23 September 2008
Date of end of period in office
16 March 2017 
Reason for end of preceding period in office
Loss of general election 
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
Liberal Party
If coalition government
Coalition partner 1
National Party
Coalition partner 2
Coalition partner 3
Coalition partner 4
Party support in parliament at beginning of period
Coalition Minority
If change in parliamentary support during period
9 March 2013
Result of general election
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 11 March 2017Colin James BarnettLiberal PartyMark McGowanAustralian Labor Party
WA 9 March 2013Colin James BarnettLiberal PartyColin James BarnettLiberal Party
WA 6 September 2008Alan John CarpenterAustralian Labor PartyColin James BarnettLiberal Party

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


Loss of general election (Carpenter): Beginning of Barnett's period in office: At the general election for the Legislative Assembly held on 6 September 2008, neither the Australian Labor Party (28 seats) nor the Liberal Party (24 seats) won a majority of seats in the 59 seat Legislative Assembly. The remaining seats were won by the National Party (4 seats) and three Independents.

'The result remained in the balance for some two weeks after the poll, with caretaker Premier Carpenter unable to persuade Nationals' Leader Brendan Grylls (who reportedly could not convince the National's hierarchy) to join a Labor led coalition with similarities to the South Australian arrangement. Grylls finally accepted an offer from Barnett's Liberals to form an "alliance" [see 'Coalition agreement', below], dependent on the Liberals' acceptance of the Nationals' key election promise, the "Royalties for Regions" policy, which proposed 25 percent of mining royalties be dedicated to funding regional policy initiatives. The sealer for Barnett was his ability to claim the voting support of the three Independent members, namely Elizabeth Constable, Janet Woollard and John Bowler, a former Labor minister who won the seat of Kalgoorlie as an Independent and then committed himself to vote with the Nationals on most matters', Harry H C Phillips and Liz Kerr, 'Western Australia', Australian Journal of Politics and History, Political Chronicle, 55(2) June 2009: 286-291, at 287.

Premier Carpenter resigned his office on 23 September 2008 and Barnett was commissioned as Premier of a Liberal Party, National Party and Independent coalition minority government [see 'Coalition agreement', below] made up of 17 ministers, 13 from the Liberal Party, 3 from the National Party and 1 Independent (Elizabeth Constable). The coalition had the support of 29 members of the Legislative Assembly, and relied on at least one of the remaining two Independents to give the government majority support in the chamber.

Coalition agreement: In a document dated 18 September 2008 (see 'Sources', below), Colin Barnett, as Leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party, and Brendan Grylls, the Parliamentary Leader of the Nationals WA, agreed to form a minority government 'to be known as the Liberal/National Government' (paragraph D). While the word 'coalition' was specifically avoided -- 'the Liberal/National Government will operate as a partnership between the Liberal Party and the Nationals WA and will not be a coalition' (paragraph F) -- the agreement falls under the meaning of coalition as used in this database. But the agreement set up procedures which permitted the Nationals to absent themselves from cabinet deliberations on specified topics, and not to be bound to support the government on legislation related to those topics. The result was what Griffith calls an 'informal coalition', (see 'References', below).

No similar agreement appeared to have been made for the Independent, Elizabeth Constable, who became a minister the the Barnett government (see note below).

Departure of Independent from ministry: After a cabinet reshuffle on 29 June 2012, the sole Independent member of the government, Elizabeth Constable, lost her portfolio as Minister of Education, and returned to the back bench. This removed the Independent component of the coalition government but, as the ministry remained a coalition minority government under Premier Barnett, no 'change in parliamentary support' is recorded in the table above.

Change in parliamentary support: At the general election for the Legislative Assembly held on 9 March 2013, the Barnett Liberal Party and National Party coalition government was returned with a large majority of seats. The coalition parties also maintained their control of the Legislative Council.

References: For an analysis of the formation of the Barnett coalition minority government and related issues, see Gareth Griffith, Minority Governments in Australia 1989-2009: Accords, Charters and Agreements, particularly pp 28-30 (Sydney: New South Wales Parliamentary Research Service, Background Paper 1/10, March 2010, ISBN 9780731318605), on line at:$File/

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.


Government of Western Australia, Western Australian Government Gazette, Perth, Tuesday, 23 September 2008 No. 163 Special; online at:$file/gg163.pdf

For the text of the agreement between the leader of the Liberal Party and the leader of the National Party on the formation of a coalition minority government, see the text provided by the New South Wales Parliamentary Library website at: