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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Ben Wyatt quits: WA treasurer won’t contest state election in March

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WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt has revealed he is quitting politics at the March state election after he previously backtracked on the same announcement.

WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt will not contest the state election in March, revealing he is quitting politics after reversing his previous retirement announcement to help the state through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Wyatt initially announced his plans to retire in February, partly citing family health reasons as a factor, but quickly backtracked when coronavirus became a worldwide problem.

In a statement on Monday, Mr Wyatt said he had made the difficult decision to reaffirm his previous intention to retire at the next state election.

“With the successful delivery of the 2020-21 state budget last month, and the strengthening recovery of the state’s economy, I have resolved the time is now right to move on,” he said.

“In March, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the Western Australian community, I had been reluctant to leave in the midst of this great fight.

“But having completed the delivery of the state budget, which supports the continued economic recovery from the pandemic, I am now confident that WA is well on its way to overcoming the challenges presented to it by COVID-19.”

Mr Wyatt, who is related to federal Minister Ken Wyatt, is the first indigenous person to be treasurer at a state or federal level in Australia.

Mr Wyatt noted the state had gone more than seven months without a case of community transmission and said the WA Recovery Plan was seeing the economy grow again.

“I regret any inconvenience caused by my changed position,” he said.

“I wish to reinforce my gratitude for the support given to me by Premier Mark McGowan over many years in government and opposition … his friendship has been invaluable during my time in politics.

“I do not intend to repeat my extensive comments made in February when I initially announced my retirement, but they still ring true.

“I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to serve as treasurer and a cabinet minister for our great state, and I greatly appreciate the support of my colleagues and my family for making that possible.”

At the time of his initial announcement, Mr Wyatt said his family had “experienced a personal health issue”.

“(It) prompted this consideration and the kind of future I want to have with my family,” he said.

“My children are of an age that leaves me with a short time to relish new experiences with them, while they still want to hang out with me and before they reach senior levels of high school.”

The former lawyer entered parliament in 2006 and holds the seat of Victoria Park.

Mr Wyatt had sought to challenge for the Labor leadership in 2011, but withdrew when he realised he did not have the numbers to defeat Eric Ripper.

The following year, Mr McGowan was elected the leader unopposed.

Hannah Beazley, daughter of WA Governor Kim Beazley, is tipped to replace Mr Wyatt in the safe Labor seat.

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