Will Canning produce a second Minister in Mike Nahan?

Michael Dennis (Mike) Nahan - crop from original
Michael Dennis (Mike) Nahan – crop from original (Photographs by Gnangarra…commons.wikimedia.org) CC Attribution 2.5 Australia

Mr Nahan stated this week he seeks to be a Senior Minister in Premier Barnett’s new cabinet.

It begs the question, “What do we really know about the Member for Riverton?”

Mr Nahan was an agitating factor behind the suspension of Canning Council, and its now escalating costs to ratepayers.

Just now:  Fmr Minister for Local Govt, John Castrilli, asks not to be considered for next Ministry.

Yet clearly these “damning” inquiries into councillors amount to a hill of beans…. Simon O’Brien, a Senior Minister in the last Barnett cabinet, was dismissed as a Canning Councillor in 1991.

Five years later Mr O’Brien was voted in to parliament, and has since held the significant portfolios of Transport, Disability Services, Finance, Commerce and Small Business!

Now Mr Nahan hopes to make such a leap.  So what do we know about him?

Well, he took a little too much personal credit for keeping his seat in the election.

Other key factors included Riverton’s modified electoral boundary working in his favour, the public’s vote of confidence in Colin Barnett’s vision and our growing impatience with minority govts.

Then there’s the joke doing the rounds that if you are an organisation that can’t pay its bills, or wants the cheapest lease in history, Mike Nahan is your man.

Mr Nahan’s maiden speech indicates he might not always feel this way:-

“I know from my very brief period as a local member that the demand for more laws, regulations and money from the public is unrelenting. Saying no, as Sir Humphrey would say, is electorally “courageous”. However, at times we must say no, so that we can say yes when it really counts.”

Mr Nahan is a skeptic of large governments, believing they overly interfere in the provision of welfare, and should not involve themselves in markets other than to regulate them.

Mere regulatory measures, unfortunately, did not stop WA losing control of its own coal reserves to overseas interests, and possibly greater assurance of affordable electricity, in the time of the Barnett Govt.

Verve Energy, the state-owned electricity generator, attempted to stop this by buying in to local coal assets.

Interestingly, the first Opinion Piece to be printed in The West Australian after election day was penned by a member of Mr Nahan’s former employer, the often controversial think tank, The Institute of Public Affairs: “Big debt means staying on same path too risky“.

It advocates relieving state debt by selling off the state’s electricity generators, water providers and ports.

Thereafter, presumably, essential services will need to be funded by taxes, charges, declining GST revenue and volatile mining royalty payments.

The cost of living did not feature prominently in the election, but it will be back.

Mr Nahan, who for the last 8 months was Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for Energy, Peter Collier, would be only too aware of the community’s anger at rising electricity prices.

We don’t know who will go on to become Ministers yet, but, as a result of the Libs sweeping election win, the Premier has a large backbench to choose from – as well as several National Party members.

The Premier will also find it easier to replace underperforming or unpopular Ministers.

That’s good news for us – and maybe even electricity prices!

Where Mr Nahan has stood out to date was in taking on his own govt’s Minister for Environment, Bill Marmion, over the endlessly failing Regional Resource Recovery Centre and its effects on nearby residents.

We know now the Barnett Govt never intended to close that centre, but that does not diminish the extensive efforts of MPs Mike Nahan and Jandakot’s Joe Francis to achieve that outcome from their own masters.

Did you know?

City of Canning has its own energy sector champion in the form of Mayor Delle Donne, who retired from his executive role at Western Power in 2011.

Joe is responsible for the City being one of only a handful of councils in Perth to have installed geothermal heating for their swimming pools.

The Mayor lobbied for funds to install geothermal heat pumps at the point of construction of the Cannington Leisureplex, saving us both the cost of retrofitting and hundreds of thousands in heating costs annually.