West Australian Premier Mark McGowan says the likely replacement for veteran MP Alannah MacTiernan will not be a member of his party if he does wind up in parliament.

Lawyer Ben Dawkins ran in fifth place on WA Labor’s South West ticket at the 2021 election and is shaping as MacTiernan’s replacement after fourth on the ticket – signwriter John Mondy – signalled his intention to turn down the role.

Lawyer Ben Dawkins says he will take Alannah MacTiernan’s seat if offered.Credit:LinkedIn

But Dawkins created a political headache for the McGowan government after he pleaded guilty to 42 counts of breaching a family violence restraining order last week.

MPs can only be ruled ineligible for parliament if they have been convicted of a crime with a penalty of imprisonment of five or more years or if they are serving or are yet to serve a term of imprisonment of one year or longer.

Dawkins appeared in Fremantle court on Tuesday and is seeking to have his guilty plea set aside. That matter will be heard next month.

Even if he does get succeed in setting aside the plea, it may not save Dawkins from being booted from WA Labor altogether.

After he pleaded guilty to the 42 charges, WA Labor secretary Ellie Whiteaker launched an internal action to expel him from the party, which ultimately rests on a decision by the state executive.

This could take more than a month, however, meaning Dawkins may still enter parliament as a suspended Labor member.

However, McGowan said on Tuesday that Dawkins would not be a Labor MP.

“If he does come into parliament, which has not been resolved yet, he wouldn’t be a member of my party,” McGowan said.

McGowan said extraordinary circumstances had resulted in the predicament.

“You’ve got to remember he was number five on the ticket, ordinarily, you get two elected,” he said.

“The events that he is the subject of the charges occurred after the time he was pre-selected. So, we didn’t know anything about any of those things because it hadn’t actually happened.

“In any event, the party is taking action.”

Dawkins has maintained that the breaches of the order were technical and occurred in emails about his children that he said may have gone off-topic.

Asked what he thought about Labor’s action, he said it was important to have zero tolerance for family violence.

“I haven’t been violent in any sense – there’s never been an allegation of physical violence, not even in the FVRO itself, which was issued without me having a say, allegations of any other form of violence are entirely false,” he said.

Dawkins said he still intended to take the upper house role if it was offered.

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