Former WA premier Mark McGowan has taken on a senior role at the former federal treasurer Joe Hockey’s consultancy firm, among four new jobs, including appointments to mining companies Mineral Resources and BHP.
Mr Hockey’s firm, Bondi Partners, promotes trade and business ties between Australia and the US. It confirmed Mr McGowan commenced his appointment this month.
It is the fourth private sector role the former Labor leader has taken on since his shock exit from state politics, citing exhaustion, five months ago.
Mr McGowan’s latest role at Bondi Partners will involve providing investment and strategic advice to the firm, according to its website.
“Drawing on his unique insights spanning diverse industries — from defence and national security to critical minerals and the clean energy transition,” the website stated.
Mr Hockey, who is founder of Bondi Partners and former Australian Ambassador to the US, said he was pleased to welcome Mr McGowan on board.
“Mark recently retired as Premier of Western Australia with massive public support,” he said in a statement to the ABC, adding it was “the best way to go”.
Mr Hockey served as the treasurer under then-Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott between 2013 and 2015 before taking on his diplomacy role in 2016.
He set up Bondi Partners in early 2020.
New resources sector jobs
Mr McGowan was recently engaged as a part-time strategic advisor for mining company Mineral Resources.
“After a hugely successful 27-year career in the Parliament of WA, including successfully steering WA through the COVID-19 crisis as premier, we are delighted Mark will bring his diverse experience and knowledge to MinRes,” the firm’s spokesperson told Four Corners.
BHP has confirmed the 56-year-old former politician is set to imminently step into a consulting role with the mining giant.
The ABC understands Mr McGowan will also take on an advisory role with APM Human Services International.
Last year, former WA treasurer Ben Wyatt joined the board of the company, which provides employment assistance along with health and disability services.
New role ‘not acceptable’
Centre for Public Integrity director Geoffrey Watson described Mr McGowan’s recent appointment to Bondi Partners as “wrong” and “bizarre”.
“To hear that he has taken a role with a prominent, conservative-oriented lobbying firm is exceptionally bad,” he told the ABC.
The former WA premier retired with a pension of more than $250,000, which Mr Watson said was meant to compensate Mr McGowan for the loss of opportunities he had foregone by his period in politics.
“What a joke,” he said.
“In fact, he’s using his experience in politics as a springboard or launching pads so as to get into private enterprise, where I imagine he’s on lucrative conditions.”
Mr Watson, who also lectures Ethics, Law and Justice at University of Technology Sydney, has argued former politicians should be prevented from immediately entering lobbying roles.
“We suggest that it should be a period of five years before a politician can go and start knocking on the doors of their colleagues to start lobbying them for outcomes,” he said.
“In Australia, we’ve had a problem – it keeps recurring. We call it the revolving door, where powerful politicians, sometimes powerful bureaucrats, leave those jobs to take up lucrative jobs with people who they previously were supposed to be regulating or controlling.
“It’s just not acceptable that this continues.”
Appointments follow May departure
Mr McGowan announced his resignation on May 29, stepping down as premier and member for Rockingham within days.
He said the “relentless” pressures of political life had worn him down.
“The truth is I’m tired, extremely tired. In fact, I’m exhausted,” he told the media at a press conference, held with just 45-minute notice.
“[The role] comes with huge responsibility that is all consuming each and every day. And, combined with the COVID years, it’s taken it out of me.”
Under Mr McGowan’s leadership, WA Labor swept to power in 2017, winning with a huge swing against a Liberal Party led by long-time premier Colin Barnett.
The then-55-year-old was re-elected for a second term in 2021 in an extraordinary landslide, winning 53 of the 59 seats in the state’s lower house.
He also appointed himself as the state’s treasurer following that election.
Mr McGowan did not respond to requests for comment.
Written by Daryna Zadvirna. Originally published on the ABC on 6 Oct 2023.