WA’s leader through crisis keen to tackle local issues

Holly ThompsonSound Telegraph
Mark McGowan said a challenging part of his role was watching the way the crisis had impacted peoples livelihoods.
Camera IconMark McGowan said a challenging part of his role was watching the way the crisis had impacted peoples livelihoods. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

There have been many people on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic across WA, but a key face in the State’s fight against the virus is Rockingham local and Premier Mark McGowan.

Mr McGowan’s role as Rockingham’s MLA has taken a back seat over the past few months, but with restrictions cautiously lifting he could be returning his focus to local matters soon; a step he said he was happy to make.

“I’m keen to ensure key projects in the electorate that have been on hold can start to resume, election commitments in the area and neighbouring electorates are delivered and we work through the recovery journey together as a community,” he said.

“(My job) changed dramatically in a relatively short space of time. I’ve been dealing with the pandemic on a daily basis and it’s been relentless.”

Mr McGowan said another challenging part of his role was watching the way the crisis had impacted peoples livelihoods.

“Our small businesses have been through a lot. They’ve done it tough over recent months,” he said.

“I’d like to thank all those businesses that have been patient throughout the pandemic. People have been marvellous and understanding.

I’d like to thank them for all the work that they’ve had to do to get into the next phase of dealing with COVID-19. It hasn’t been easy, and for me making these decisions has not been easy either.”

Although times have been stressful, Mr McGowan said due to self-isolation, he had been able to spend more time with his family, which had helped him cope with stress.

“Pre-COVID I was out almost every night for a work engagement. The job doesn’t stop after hours or on weekends so spending quality time with the family was limited,” he said.

“It’s not always easy finding a balance. I try to walk every day to keep up my fitness and to clear my head.

“I take my dog Georgie for a walk when I can and we walk along the coast and sometimes we do laps up and down the stairs.

“It’s been wonderful having my family close by. They keep me grounded and teach me new things. My daughter has been giving me some dancing lessons.

“I can’t say I’ve quite got the hang of it and that’s an area I know I need practise on.”

Restrictions have started to lift over the past few weeks, with gatherings up to 300 now allowed and the 4sq m rule reduced to 2sq m.

Mr McGowan said although lifted restrictions would help businesses, he said he thought things would get worse before they got better.

“Before COVID-19 really hit, WA had turned the corner, with more than 72,000 jobs created since the March 2017 election,” he said.

“Unfortunately, COVID-19 has wiped out all of this positive work.”

Since the pandemic hit, Mr McGowan said over $1.8 billion had been injected in stimulus and economic relief measures, including payroll tax relief, waiving of fees and credits on electricity bills.

“We’ll now turn our focus towards our recovery journey to ensure we get as many people into jobs as we can and kick start our economy,” Mr McGowan said.

“My focus has been on getting people back into work and planning as we brace for some extremely difficult months ahead as we deal with the State’s finances and jobs.

“Our hard borders and our isolation have worked to our advantage and we must keep it that way.”

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