The Gallop Government: A Perspective by John Langoulant

John Langoulant was born in WA and graduated from the University of Western Australia. He worked with the Australian Government Treasury in Canberra from 1975 and with the Treasury in WA from 1988, holding the position of Chief Executive Officer of the Treasury from 1995 to 2004. From 2004 to 2008 he was Chief Executive of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Western Australia before accepting his appointment as Chief Executive of Australian Capital Equity.

I knew Geoff Gallop when he was a Minister in the Lawrence Government and worked with him when he won Government as Premier in 2001 when I was the WA Under Treasurer. I also interacted with him in my role as CEO of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA from 2004.

My main involvement with Geoff was from an economic perspective. The Gallop Government years were marked by significant change in the State's economic fortunes. Geoff won office at a time of weakness in the economy as it recovered from the impacts of the Asian financial crisis, the bird flu epidemic and the collapse of Ansett airlines. In the early years he and his government took difficult decisions to raise taxes to ensure essential services could be delivered while protecting the budget surplus and the State's AAA credit rating which had been put at risk from the coalition years.

John Langoulant John Langoulant.
Photograph courtesy John Langoulant.

The early years also saw Gallop legislate his social agenda and address environmental issues which he had pursued from opposition. He brought strong leadership, integrity and due process to government administration. Not all initiatives were successful but Gallop brought a fresh approach to ensuring government was sustainable economically, socially and environmentally.

From 2003-04 as China emerged as a major customer for the State's resources its economic circumstances changed for the better. In many ways governing in these stronger times proved more challenging than the early years and in many ways leadership seemed to wane. From the business sector perspective that definitely was the case and engaging with Geoff and his Ministers proved difficult as the State struggled to find direction from the government.

Geoff Gallop was the best leader of his time in office and brought a strong sense of purpose to his premiership. His retirement due to ill health was unfortunate both personally and for the State.