Peter Dowding

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Peter Dowding
Peter Dowding.jpg
24th Premier of Western Australia
Elections: 1989
In office
25 February 1988 12 February 1990
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor Gordon Reid
Deputy David Parker
Preceded by Brian Burke
Succeeded by Carmen Lawrence
Constituency North Province
Personal details
Peter M'Callum Dowding

(1943-10-06) 6 October 1943 (age 77)
Political party Labor Party
Profession Barrister

Peter M'Callum Dowding SC (born 6 October 1943 in Melbourne) is a lawyer and former politician who served as the 24th Premier of Western Australia, from 25 February 1988 until his resignation on 12 February 1990 after an internal party dispute.



Early life and career

The son of Presbyterian minister and activist Keith Dowding, he was educated at three independent schools: Caulfield Grammar School, in Melbourne, The Scots College, in Sydney and Hale School, in Perth. He earned a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Western Australia in 1964.

Political career

Dowding was elected as a member of Western Australia's Legislative Council for the Labor Party from 1979 to 1986 representing the North Province and, in 1986, was elected as the member for Maylands in the Legislative Assembly.

Having succeeded Brian Burke as premier on 25 February 1988, during the time known as the WA Inc period, he was involved in unravelling a number of business transactions. At the 1989 state election he led the ALP to its third consecutive victory; but later, as the government's position in the polls deteriorated, he resigned from the premiership on 12 February 1990. Carmen Lawrence succeeded him, becoming the first female premier of any Australian state. A royal commission later found that:

Mr Dowding, as premier, presided over a disastrous series of decisions designed to support Rothwells when it was or should have been clear to him and to those ministers closely involved that Rothwells was no longer a viable financial institution. This culminated in the decision to involve the Government, through WAGH, in the Kwinana petrochemical project as a means of removing the Government's contingent liability for certain of the debts of Rothwells. Electoral advantage was preferred to the public interest. [1]

Later career

Dowding has worked for several law firms during his career, and has specialised as a barrister in the areas of family and native-title law. In 2002, he was appointed as Senior Counsel in Western Australia. He was a recipient of a Centenary Medal in 2001.

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  1. Report of the Royal Commission to inquire whether there has been (a) corruption; (b) illegal conduct; or (c) improper conduct, by any person or corporation in the affairs, investment decisions and business dealings of the Government of Western Australia or its agencies, instrumentalities and corporations, part II, page 22
Parliament of Western Australia
Preceded by
Brian Burke
Premier of Western Australia
Succeeded by
Carmen Lawrence
Leader of the Labor Party