Mark McGowan is exhausted. It’s from keeping a straight face

Poor Mark McGowan. He’s exhausted. So exhausted,he’s quitting as premier of Western Australia.

His fatigue must be from the immense effort required to prevent himself leaping in the air,grinning madly while clicking his heels and shouting “Can you believe my embarrassment of good luck?”

He’s just 55.

Mark McGowan is stepping down as Western Australia’s 30th premier on the eve of his third decade in politics.

Mark McGowan is stepping down as Western Australia’s 30th premier on the eve of his third decade in politics.AAP

And,in truth,pretty bland,despite gaining popularity ratings reaching a stratospheric 91 per cent - higher than any previous Australian politician.

Why,at the last West Australian state election,just two years ago,his Labor Party won 53 out of 59 of the seats in the Legislative Assembly. The Liberals hold two seats. True story.

Mark McGowan was Western Australia’s COVID Premier,the man who saw the state through three years of chaos and confusion.

You’d run out of energy just thinking about that level of political fortune.

All it took,really (apart from the Liberal Party’s recent enthrallment with self-destruction),was to close the state borders to the entire outside world during COVID,thus persuading West Australians that what they already thought about themselves was true. They were the chosen ones,and it was by no more than a rotten accident of history that their promised land was lumped in with a federated nation of Australia.

Meanwhile,McGowan led a people whose principal job was to count their community cash jar.

It surely went close to bringing him to his knees,gasping with mirth,to wake every morning knowing that a Liberal,Scott Morrison,decided a few years ago it was a jim dandy idea to shower WA with so much GST largesse the state has since suffered the danger of sinking beneath the weight of it.

Morrison’s deal means McGowan’s WA currently receives 70 cents of every dollar of GST raised within the state (and 75 per cent from next year) – which is rather a lot,considering the place is bulging with zillionaires insisting on digging up ever-greater wealth. Australia’s entire GST,at last estimate,is around $86 billion this financial year.

You’d bust a boiler trying to do all the delicious figuring,particularly when you knowthe deal costs Australia about $5 billion this year and leaves every state and territory except WA staring at what economists call a fiscal cliff in the next three years.

Meanwhile,the WA government’s recent budget merrily confirmed the state is indeed awash in filthy lucre,its debt declining for the fourth year in a row,achieving a $4.2 billion final net operating surplus for 2022-23,and more surpluses forecast to the far horizon starting with $3.3 billion for 2023-24.

McGowan and his people have been reduced to working feverishly to distribute some of their Treasury’s embarrassment of riches,tossing a minimum $400 to every household in the state in electricity credits over coming months.

You can see the poor fellow’s predicament.

He’s plumb tuckered out from all that counting of blessings.


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A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Western Australia’s GST income totalled $86 billion for the current financial year.

Tony Wright is the associate editor and special writer for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

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