Last Month in Politics: WA’s new-look Opposition

Government, Government Relations, Parliament, Political Leaders, Politics

Purple Editor 3 Feb 2023
4 mins

A normally quiet month politically, January has been filled with coverage of natural disasters across the country with floods and fires affecting farmland and housing in multiple states. Prime Minister Albanese was quick to visit flood zones and announce immediate relief for those affected.

Stories of note across Australia include issues at three separate gas plants in WA as the sector continues to struggle with supply issues, the WA Government announcing it will ban the display and possession of Nazi symbols, while New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet made several public apologies after it was found he wore a Nazi costume to his 21st birthday.

The Federal Government is set to introduce new powers to the media regulator to combat misinformation and disinformation, the Federal Environmental Department is investigating allegations of unlawful land clearing in Northern Territory, and Liberal Senator Jim Molan passed away after a sudden and rapid decline in health.

Internationally, Mexico has imposed one of the world’s toughest smoking bans including a ban on public smoking and blocking tobacco products being advertised, promoted or used as a sponsor. Papa New Guinea has agreed to finalise a bilateral security treaty with Australia and the US, Britain and the European Union have introduced new sanctions in Iran in the latest response to the country’s deadly protests.

Reshuffling the WA Opposition

January’s biggest political event in the west was the shock resignation of Opposition and WA Nationals leader, Mia Davies.

After 17 years in parliament, Ms Davies explained that she was determined to not be a career parliamentarian and didn’t have the energy to contest the 2025 election.

She will remain as local MP for the Central Wheatbelt until the next election.

Following her resignation, the Nationals party room unanimously chose Shane Love has the new Opposition leader, with Peter Rundle to take the role as deputy.

Shortly after Ms Davies resignation, Liberal MP Libby Mettam announced she would challenge David Honey for party leadership.

Running unopposed, Ms Mettam claimed leadership in the spill and wasted no time in claiming the dysfunction caused by ‘The Clan’ would not be a feature of her time as leader – she removed shadow portfolios from Nick Goiran and he has also been removed from the role of parliamentary secretary.

Discussions around which party should be leading the opposition alliance into the next election have reignited again, with tensions increasing.

Federal Government to lower emissions ceiling

The Albanese Government has proposed a 4.9 per cent annual emissions cut on large polluters from July, as it works to impose stricter carbon emissions limits.

The new safeguard will be applied to 215 of the country’s largest polluting facilities in a move that will see an accumulated cut of 200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.

Facilities including coal and gas plants, aluminium smelters, manufacturing plants and airlines will have their limits based on their emissions intensity rather than overall emissions – companies cannot therefore meet requirements through reducing production.

Chris Bowen, Minister for Climate Change and Energy, said the mechanism will work as an emissions trading scheme, with facilities below their baseline earning carbon credits that can be purchased by facilities exceeding their baselines – to help meet requirements.

The tightening of the mechanism is one the Government’s signature policies to reach a 43% emissions reduction from 2005 levels by 2030.

Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill

WA’s newly drafted Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill (B) 2023, formerly known as the Greenhouse Gas Storage and Transport Bill, has been released for 12-week consultation period for stakeholders to provide feedback.

The suggested amendments are seeking to introduce a greenhouse gas legislative regime that is similar to the current Commonwealth Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006.

Some of the new inclusions surround:

  • Property rights for greenhouse gas storage formations
  • Acreage release for greenhouse gas exploration titles
  • Retention leases and injection licences
  • Injection
  • Site closure and long-term liability requirements
  • Ability to regulate direct access to suitable storage sites under specific circumstances
  • Allowing transport of greenhouse gases by pipeline to depleted petroleum reservoirs.

The new amendments demonstrate the McGowan Government’s continued support to the industrial and resources sectors’ transition to net zero emissions.

McGowan Government climate change legislation

The McGowan Government is set to introduce climate change legislation this year to provide a framework for the State’s climate response and formalise ambitions of net zero emissions by 2050.

It is also set to provide industry, business and investors certainty and stability, with clear policies to reduce emissions.

Statutory requirements will be established for the Government to set interim emission reduction targets and develop strategies, adapting to climate change impacts.

Once introduced, the legislation will enforce accountability and transparency that will require the Minister for Climate Action to report annually to Parliament on the state’s net emissions and progress towards targets.

Jacinda Ardern resignation

After five and a half years as New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern has announced her resignation from Parliament.

Explaining she didn’t have the energy to seek re-election, Ms Ardern announced her final day in office will be 7 February, before leaving politics entirely in April.

The shock resignation follows polls demonstrating her Labour Party’s popularity has dropped with just 33 per cent of poll respondents supporting the party, while Ms Ardern’s popularity, as preferred Prime Minister, was at 29 per cent – the lowest since her election.

Jacinda Ardern was New Zealand’s third female Prime Minister and youngest since the 1800s and she was only the second world leader to give birth while in office. While in office, Ms Ardern helped New Zealand lead the way in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic yet faced countless threats and sexist commentary from media.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins will replace Ms Arden after running uncontested.

New Zealand will now have a general election on October 14.