Newly emboldened West Australian Labor leader Mark McGowan has unveiled an ambitious job-creation plan that will be central to the opposition’s 2017 state election campaign.
Mr McGowan, who recently fended off a leadership challenge by former federal minister Stephen Smith, says the plan includes stipulating minimum levels of local jobs for major government infrastructure projects.
“This plan will create well over – well over – 50,000 jobs across Western Australia,” he told a campaign event in Stirling on Sunday.
Mr McGowan said the state needed to diversify its economy so it was less vulnerable to boom-and-bust cycles.
“In a state so richly endowed by both natural and human resources, you’d think there’d be a job for everyone willing and able to work, but in Western Australia in 2016, that is not the case,” he said.
“After a boom the premier kept describing as the opportunity of a lifetime, there are today in WA fewer and fewer opportunities to work.
“We should be doing far better.”
The plan includes a $425 million investment in the tourism sector and a $14.5 million new-industries fund to accelerate business start-ups.
The father of three has spoken with renewed vigour since he prevailed in last month’s short-lived leadership challenge by Mr Smith, who claimed party members were concerned the 48-year-old couldn’t achieve a 10 per cent swing needed to prevent the Barnett government winning a third term.
Speaking a day after the caucus voted unanimously in support of him, Mr McGowan said he believed the failed coup had made the party more unified than ever, but also conceded he’d be “finished” as leader if he didn’t win the state election in March.