Class of 1991

The Wyatt name has become synonymous with indigenous affairs at the state and federal level. Ben Sana Wyatt, son of Cedric and Janine Wyatt, was born in Wewak, Papua New Guinea and grew up in the goldfields of Laverton and Kalgoorlie. He studied at Aquinas College from the age of 14 and finished with the Staff Award for General Excellence in 1991. He was a very well-known and popular student who threw himself into all aspects of college life from the cadets to the annual drama production.

Ben read law at the University of Western Australia and went on to graduate from Duntroon Military College. At university, he found politics as “a young aboriginal man trying to be normal” and wanting to establish his own credentials independent of originality. His parents were politically active and he was drawn to it after spending five or so years in practice at Phillips Fox. Ben served as counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions. He continued his study and holds a Master’s Degree with distinction from the London School of Economics.

But politics was calling and when he stood in 2006 for Victoria Park in a by-election triggered by the resignation of former Premier Geoff Gallop, it was his moment. Ben was elected to the Legislative Assembly and has served WA for more than a decade in an area he lived in for more than twenty years.

Ben was appointed Australia’s first Indigenous Australian Treasurer in March 2017 and also held the position of Minister for Finance, Aboriginal Affairs and Lands. He was largely credited with being well on the way to turning the finances of WA around in the two years following the victory over Colin Barnett’s government. This also meant that the portfolio of Aboriginal Affairs was held by Wyatts at both state and federal level: Ben’s father being a cousin of Ken Wyatt AM MP, Federal Member for Hasluck.

Someone who remembers Ben well from Aquinas describes him as “quite self-assured and centred, confident but not brash and very humble. He was very happy to be part of the crowd and not wishing to attract attention to himself.”

In standing down from WA politics in 2021 Ben cited the need to spend more time with his wife and young daughters, Ben said that being Treasurer of Western Australia was: “something I never would have imagined when I was at school.” Covid 19 forced him to rethink and fortunately for WA he has decided to remain in the role of Treasurer. Premier McGowan says of Ben: “He has done an exceptional job as Treasurer. It’s a marvellous story and something that all West Australians should be very proud of”.