The Gallop Government: A Perspective by David Hodgkinson

David Hodgkinson is a Visiting Fellow in the Law School at the University of WA. He is also a member of The Hodgkinson Group and Aviation and Climate Change Advisors, Special Counsel with law firm Clayton Utz and Executive Director of EcoCarbon Inc. He is the co-author of 'Global Climate Change: Australian Law and Policy' (LexisNexis/Butterworths, 2008) and the general editor of the forthcoming online climate change law service, Australian Climate Change Law and Policy (LexisNexis/Butterworths, 2009).

In August 2006 an article by David Hodgkinson titled 'Geoff Gallop as Premier of Western Australia 2001-2006: Political and Constitutional Change and the the Expansion of Horizons' was published in The New Critic produced by the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Western Australia.

In the article, and after having discussed the circumstances of Geoff Gallop's election victories in 2001 and 2005, Hodgkinson devoted several pages to what he described as Gallop's passion for 'one vote one value' and the lines of action pursued in achieving significant but far from total success in this regard in May 2005. Hodgkinson referred to Gallop as 'an uncommonly articulate politician ... [whose] focus on and concern with electoral reform remained vital and consistent across the decades' notwithstanding 'some accommodation and some compromise on his part as well as occasional conflict' between the positions he had taken for almost twenty years and the provisions of the eventual 2005 legislation.

David HodgkinsonDavid Hodgkinson.
Photograph courtesy David Hodgkinson.

Hodgkinson also analyses Gallop's focus on federalism which had been identified from the outset as one of his priorities in a political career. He described Gallop's attitude to federalism as accepting that federalism was 'the most appropriate form of Government for this nation . . . [but which] needs to be capable of change and development'. Gallop's views, Hodgkinson considered, were pragmatic 'informed by scholarship and a view of the development of Australia as a nation' with the emphasis on finding 'national ... solutions to contemporary economic, social and environmental problems'. State rights, Gallop argued, had always to be considered in the 'overall context of a commitment to national development'.

At both the beginning and end of the article Hodgkinson emphasised Gallop's view of John Forrest, which Gallop had outlined in 2003 while presenting the inaugural John Forrest lecture to the Australian Association of Constitutional Law. On that occasion Gallop referred to Forrest as placing 'Western Australia within the context of the Federation'. Hodgkinson also quoted David Black as describing Gallop as a 'modern-day John Forrest, presiding over a resources boom, building infrastructure and with an eye to long-term prosperity'. In this context it can be said that Gallop took an expansive view of politics and of the role Western Australia could play in an Australian nation, and that his perception of Forrest's outlook would be one he would wish to apply to himself.