Mike Nahan

Michael Dennis Nahan (born 2 July 1950) is an American-born Australian politician, serving as Western Australian Liberal leader and Leader of the Opposition from the 2017 state election until his resignation in June 2019. He has been Liberal member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly seat of Riverton since 2008. He served as the Treasurer of Western Australia from March 2014 until March 2017.

Mike Nahan

Mike nahan gnangarra 02.JPG
33rd Leader of the Opposition in Western Australia
In office
21 March 2017 – 13 June 2019
PremierMark McGowan
DeputyLiza Harvey
Preceded byMark McGowan
Succeeded byLiza Harvey
Treasurer of Western Australia
In office
17 March 2014 – 17 March 2017
PremierColin Barnett
Preceded byTroy Buswell
Succeeded byBen Wyatt
Western Australian Minister for Energy; Citizenship and Multicultural Interests
In office
21 March 2013 – 17 March 2017
PremierColin Barnett
Western Australian Minister for Finance
In office
21 March 2013 – 17 March 2014
PremierColin Barnett
Member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly
for Riverton
Assumed office
6 September 2008
Preceded byTony McRae
Personal details
Michael Dennis Nahan

(1950-07-02) 2 July 1950 (age 69)
Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Political partyLiberal Party
Spouse(s)Nyuk Nahan
Alma materWestern Michigan University
Australian National University


Nahan was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1950 as one of 13 children and grew up on a small farm, later graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics from Western Michigan University. After arriving in Australia in the late 1970s, he received a doctorate in economics from the Australian National University having previously completed a master's degree in agricultural economics.[1][2]

Nahan arrived in Western Australia in July 1982. He joined the Institute of Public Affairs, a libertarian think tank, as a policy director. Between 1995 and 2005 he was Executive Director of the IPA.[3]

State politicsEdit

Nahan entered politics at the 2008 Western Australian state election when he defeated incumbent Labor MP Tony McRae for the seat of Riverton in southern Perth.

Nahan served as the Trustee of the Parliamentary Superannuation Board and was Chairman of the Economics and Industry Standing Committee in State Parliament from November 2008 to August 2012.[2][4] As part of the Economics and Industry Standing Committee, Mike Nahan presided over the Kimberley Ultramarathon Inquiry, an Inquiry set up to understand why five individuals received extensive burns. It was later determined that the fire was caused by an out of control prescribed burn being conducted by FESA, El Questro, the WA Police and the James Gino Salerno family, a cult residing around Kununurra.

After the Liberal/National government was reelected at the 2013 Western Australian state election, Nahan was promoted to cabinet as Minister for Energy, Finance, and Citizenship and Multicultural Interests by Premier Colin Barnett.[4]

Treasurer of Western AustraliaEdit

Nahan was appointed as the Treasurer of Western Australia on 14 March 2014 following the resignation of Troy Buswell.[5] His first budget as Treasurer was delivered in May 2014.[6]

As Treasurer of Western Australia, Nahan presided over the loss of the state's AAA credit rating in August 2014 when state debt was downgraded to AA1 (further downgraded to AA2 in February 2016),[7] and an unemployment rate of 6.5% in March 2017.[8]

Leader of the OppositionEdit

The Liberal government was roundly defeated at the 2017 state election, suffering the worst defeat of a sitting government in Western Australian history. Notably, the Liberals' support in Perth almost melted. The Liberals were cut down to only nine seats in the capital, including Nahan's. Following the defeat, Barnett resigned as WA Liberal leader and returned to the backbench.

Two days after the election, outgoing minister Bill Marmion indicated that Nahan had the most support in the much-reduced Liberal party room to succeed Barnett.[9] He was elected unopposed as Liberal leader, and hence Leader of the Opposition, on 21 March, with outgoing Deputy Premier Liza Harvey remaining deputy leader.[10]

Nahan has been compared to Ned Flanders, a character from The Simpsons, with The West Australian cartoonist Dean Alston drawing him in the style of the animated television show.[11][12][13]

Nahan announced on 12 June 2019 he was stepping down from the parliamentary leadership of the Liberal Party.[14] When asked who he will be backing as his replacement, he said it would be up to the Liberal party room to make that decision. Nahan also said that he had always planned to step down before the 2021 election, meaning that he never intended to take the Liberals into the campaign. He however disputed the suggestion that he was "warming the chair".[14] His deputy, Harvey, was elected unopposed as party leader on 13 June 2019.[15] He is only the fifth WA Liberal leader not to take the party into an election.

Soon after Harvey was elected his successor, Nahan became Shadow Minister for Planning in Harvey's shadow cabinet.

Taxation and citizenship issuesEdit

In 2018, Nahan revealed a substantial disputed liability, believed to be potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars, to the United States Internal Revenue Service. Despite being a member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly since September 2008 and Treasurer in the Barnett Government for three years, this possible liability was only disclosed in 2018 during a debate over eligibility of dual citizens.[16] During the debate, Mike stated that he no longer held a U.S. passport but was unable to renounce his American citizenship until the debt was resolved. The issue arose in 2010 when the IRS changed the way in which it calculated liability from Australian superannuation recipients. Nahan is reported to be one many thousands of U.S. citizens caught up in the changes and is awaiting the outcome of several court cases in the United States where lawyers are confident that, if successful, his liability will be expunged.[17][18] For Liberal Party colleagues the issue raised further concerns about his ability to lead the decimated party in parliament to the next Western Australia election expected in 2021.[19]


  1. ^ Mike Nahan, Member for Riverton (13 November 2008). "Maiden Speech" (PDF). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Western Australia: Legislative Assembly. pp. 35–38.
  2. ^ a b "About Mike Nahan". mikenahan.com.au. Archived from the original on 10 June 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  3. ^ "People & associates - Mike Nahan". Institute of Public Affairs. Archived from the original on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Current Members - Hon. Dr Michael (Mike) Dennis Nahan MLA BEc, MS, PhD". Parliament of Western Australia. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  5. ^ "Cabinet reshuffle: Nahan and Nalder the winners after resignation of Troy Buswell". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 14 March 2014.
  6. ^ O'Connor, Andrew (8 May 2014). "WA budget 2014: Households set for financial pain as Government delivers slim surplus". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  7. ^ "Moody's downgrades WA credit rating as commodities prices plunge; fears of debt blowout". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 8 February 2016.
  8. ^ O'Connor, Andrew (4 March 2017). "WA Liberals wield double-edged sword as they target Labor's election promise costings". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  9. ^ Perpitch, Nicholas (16 March 2017). "Mike Nahan firms as WA opposition leader". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  10. ^ "Nahan replaces Barnett as WA Liberal leader". Sky News Australia. 21 March 2017.
  11. ^ Strutt, Jessica (18 November 2017). "The challenge of selling 'Ned Flanders'". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  12. ^ "Ned's final cut". The West Australian. Seven West Media. 8 December 2017. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  13. ^ "WA's 'Flanders' jokes amid budget gloom". news.com.au. News Corp Australia. 9 May 2014. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  14. ^ a b Shine, Rhiannon; Kagi, Jacob (12 June 2019). "Mike Nahan quits as Opposition Leader two years after WA election wipe-out". ABC News. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  15. ^ Gubana, Benjamin (13 June 2019). "WA Liberals elect first female leader as Liza Harvey takes over from Mike Nahan". ABC News.
  16. ^ "Nahan says US tax bill may be wiped". The West Australian. 1 August 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  17. ^ "Liberal Party unrest as leader admits US tax battle". www.theaustralian.com.au. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  18. ^ "Personal explanation by Opposition Leader Mike Nahan". Mike Nahan. 1 August 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  19. ^ "Attack of the 'white ants' exposes a lack of guts among the Opposition ranks". ABC News. 4 August 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.

External linksEdit

Western Australian Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
Tony McRae
Member for Riverton
Political offices
Preceded by
Troy Buswell
Treasurer of Western Australia
Succeeded by
Ben Wyatt
Preceded by
Colin Barnett
Leader of the Opposition in Western Australia
Succeeded by
Liza Harvey
Party political offices
Preceded by
Colin Barnett
Leader of the Liberal Party in Western Australia
Succeeded by
Liza Harvey
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
John Hyde
Executive Director of Institute of Public Affairs
Succeeded by
John Roskam