He was tipped to sail off into the sunset, but now finds himself second in command.
Bill Marmion has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround in his political fortunes in the past 24 hours.
Since the 2017 election the 65-year-old Barnett Government holdover has been dogged by speculation he would retire – or face being booted – from his blue-ribbon seat of Nedlands, to make way for desperately needed new blood in the party.
Just last January Mr Marmion was demoted following nine ineffectual months as the party’s health spokesman, intensifying talk his departure was imminent.
Instead he today finds himself deputy leader of a party that has shuffled him between a dozen ministries in a parliamentary career that has spanned 11 years.
When Mr Marmion was making headlines it was for the wrong reasons.
As Environment Minister in 2011 he shirked blame over the bungled prescribed burn that turned into a runaway bushfire destroying more than 40 Margaret River properties.
Mike Nahan’s resignation was billed as an opportunity for much-needed generational change and while Mrs Harvey was always the clear frontrunner for leader, the race for deputy was on Wednesday night viewed as far more open among Liberal MPs.
But when 8.30am Thursday rolled around Mr Marmion had only one challenger: Carine MLA and Local Government spokesman Tony Krsticevic, who was quickly brushed aside in a confidential vote.
First term Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup has been impressive in his relatively short time on the hill and was viewed as in the mix but at just 32 decided against nominating, as did Sean L’Estrange and the baggage-laden Dean Nalder.
If Mr Marmion was pleased with his promotion Labor MPs appeared ecstatic, Transport Minister Rita Saffioti dubbing Mr Marmion the “Steven Bradbury of WA Politics” during question time yesterday.
“That’s unfair to Steven Bradbury,” quipped Labor colleague Dave Kelly.
Flanking Mrs Harvey on the steps of Parliament, Mr Marmion moved to dispel questions over his age and whether his selection in lieu of a younger candidate was an “own goal” for the WA Liberals.
“I think it’s a good goal, I scored a goal in fact last week in my hockey game and I intend to score a few more goals in the political scene over the next two years,” Mr Marmion said.
“I think the combination of Liza and myself is a very strong combination. We both have the strong support of the party and I think we can actually lead the team, that’s all of us, to an election win in less than two years’ time.”
As Liberal deputy Mr Marmion will be afforded his choice of portfolio but the one-time president of the WA branch of Engineers Australia indicated he was comfortable with his current responsibilities in Mines and Petroleum, Innovation and Disruptive Technologies, Defence Issues and Science.
“My strength obviously as an engineer is in state development, mining and petroleum,” Mr Marmion said.
During his tenure as Environment Minister Mr Marmion was responsible for appointing current Environmental Protection Authority chairman Tom Hatton but indicated he did not support Mr Hatton’s widely-criticised attempt to force all new major mining projects to be carbon neutral.
“I worked in very closely when I was Minister for Environment with the EPA to make sure any decisions they came up with or were contemplating that may affect the economy of Western Australia were nipped in the bud,” he said.