Michelle Roberts

Last updated


Michelle Roberts

MLA
Speaker of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly
Assumed office
29 April 2021
Preceded by Peter Watson
Member of the Legislative Assembly
of Western Australia
Assumed office
14 December 1996
Preceded byNone (new seat)
Constituency Midland
In office
19 March 1994 14 December 1996
Preceded by Carmen Lawrence
Succeeded byNone (abolished)
Constituency Glendalough
Personal details
Born
Michelle Hopkins Thomas

(1960-02-29) 29 February 1960 (age 61)
Perth, Western Australia
Political party Labor
Alma mater University of Western Australia

Michelle Hopkins Roberts (née Thomas; born 29 February 1960) is an Australian politician who has been a Labor Party member of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia since 1994. She served as a minister in the governments of Geoff Gallop and Alan Carpenter between 2001 and 2008. In November 2015, Roberts became the longest-serving female parliamentarian in Western Australia's history, breaking the record set by Liz Constable. She was a high school teacher, civil servant and local government councillor before entering politics.

Contents

Early life

Roberts was born in Perth, Western Australia, to Frances (née Hopkins) and William Thomas. [1] Her uncle, Chas Hopkins, served as Lord Mayor of Perth. [2] Roberts completed her secondary education at Mercedes College and then went on to the University of Western Australia, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree followed by a diploma in education. She taught at John Curtin Senior High School from 1983 until 1987. Roberts left teaching in 1987 to work for the Department of Parliamentary Services, where she stayed until 1989. She then spent periods as a policy officer for the Departments of Local Government (1989 to 1991) and Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare (1993 to 1994), as well as serving as a board member of the East Perth Redevelopment Authority from 1991 to 1993. [1]

Politics

Early years

Roberts joined the Labor Party in 1978, and has served as a party official at both state and federal level. She was elected to the Perth City Council in 1986 and served as a councillor until 1993, including as deputy lord mayor to Reg Withers from 1992. Roberts first ran for parliament at the 1993 state election, standing unsuccessfully for the Legislative Council in fourth place on Labor's ticket in the East Metropolitan Region. [1] She entered the Legislative Assembly the following year, winning the 1994 Glendalough by-election (caused by the resignation of former premier Carmen Lawrence). Roberts was included in the shadow ministry of Ian Taylor a few months after her election, and remained a shadow minister under Jim McGinty and Geoff Gallop. She transferred to the seat of Midland at the 1996 state election, following the elimination of Glendalough in a redistribution. [3]

2001–2008: cabinet minister

After Labor's victory at the 2001 state election, Roberts was appointed Minister for Police, Minister for Emergency Services, and Minister for Local Government. She lost the local government portfolio to Tom Stephens in a reshuffle in July 2001, at which point her other two portfolios were merged. In June 2003, Roberts was also made Minister for Justice and Minister for Community Safety. She lost the justice portfolio to John D'Orazio in a reshuffle after the 2005 state election. [3]

When Geoff Gallop resigned as premier and leader of the Labor Party in January 2006, Roberts was one of three candidates to replace him, along with Alan Carpenter and Jim McGinty. Both she and McGinty withdrew their candidacies before a formal vote was held. [4] [5] In the new ministry, Roberts became Minister for Housing and Works, Minister for Consumer Protection, Minister for Heritage, and Minister for Land Information. She was additionally made Minister for Indigenous Affairs in December 2006, although she lost the consumer protection portfolio. In March 2007, Roberts was also made Minister for Employment Protection, serving in that role until being replaced by Jon Ford in February 2008. She held her remaining portfolios until Labor's defeat at the 2008 state election. [3]

2008–2017: shadow cabinet

After the 2008 election, Roberts was retained in the shadow cabinet of the new Labor leader, Eric Ripper. She was initially given the education portfolio, but in February 2011 was promoted to shadow treasurer, replacing Ben Wyatt (who had unsuccessfully challenged for the leadership). [6] When Mark McGowan succeeded Ripper as leader in January 2012, Wyatt returned as shadow treasurer and Roberts was instead made shadow police minister. [7] She came close to losing her seat at the 2013 state election, eventually winning Midland by just 24 votes on the two-party-preferred count. This was a negative swing of 8.3 points from the 2008 election. [8]

2017–2021: cabinet minister

Labor regained government at the 2017 state election, winning the largest majority government in the state's history at the time. Roberts herself saw off her 2013 opponent, Daniel Parasiliti, with somewhat less difficulty, picking up a swing of over 12 percent to turn Midland into a safe Labor seat at one stroke. She was appointed as Minister for Police and Minister for Road Safety in McGowan's government.

With former Premier Colin Barnett's retirement from politics in 2018, Roberts became the Mother of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly as its longest-serving member.

2021–present: Speaker of the Legislative Assembly

After Labor was reelected with an even larger majority in 2021, Roberts was elected as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the first woman to hold the post. Her ascension to the post came as a record 28 women were elected to the Legislative Assembly. In her first address as Speaker, Roberts said that she took up the post 100 years after Edith Cowan became the first woman elected to a legislature at any level in Australia. "This is a clear signal to the community and to women of just how far we've come," she said, "but it has taken over a century to do it." [9]

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References

  1. 1 2 3 Michelle Hopkins Roberts, Biographical Register of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  2. Peace, Bronwyn (19 March 2003). "Hopkins joins race for mayor". The West Australian.
  3. 1 2 3 Hon. Michelle Hopkins Roberts MLA BA, DipEd, Parliament of Western Australia. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  4. "Carpenter looking good for top job", Business News Western Australia, 17 January 2006. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  5. "Energy minister to take over as WA premier", The Sydney Morning Herald , 21 January 2006. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  6. "Ripper promotes leadership rival: analysts", The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 February 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  7. "Mark McGowan announces Labor cabinet reshuffle", PerthNow, 27 January 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  8. Midland, WA Votes 2013, ABC News. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  9. Michael Ramsey (29 April 2021). "WA parliament elects Michelle Roberts as its first female speaker of the Legislative Assembly". Seven News . Australian Associated Press.
Western Australian Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
Carmen Lawrence
Member for Glendalough
1994–1996
Abolished
New seat Member for Midland
1996–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Peter Watson
Speaker of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly
2021–present
Political offices
Preceded by
Paul Omodei
Minister for Local Government
2001
Succeeded by
Tom Stephens
Preceded by
Kevin Prince
Minister for Police and Emergency Services
2001–2006
Succeeded by
John D'Orazio
Preceded by
Jim McGinty
Minister for Justice
2003–2005
New creation Minister for Community Safety
2003–2006
Preceded by
John Kobelke
Minister for Consumer Protection
2006
Succeeded by
Sheila McHale
Preceded by
Fran Logan
Minister for Housing and Works
2006–2008
Succeeded by
Troy Buswell
Preceded by
Fran Logan
Minister for Heritage
2006–2008
Succeeded by
John Castrilli
Preceded by
John Bowler
Minister for Land Information
2006–2008
Succeeded by
Brendon Grylls
Preceded by
Sheila McHale
Minister for Indigenous Affairs
2006–2008
Succeeded by
Kim Hames
Preceded by
John Bowler
Minister for Employment Protection
2007–2008
Succeeded by
Jon Ford
Preceded by
Liza Harvey
Minister for Police
2017–2021
Succeeded by
Paul Papalia
Minister for Road Safety
2017–2021