CHRISTIAN Porter's decision to quit state politics and challenge for the federal seat of Pearce certainly took the State by surprise. But he has good reasons for doing so.
As Porter quickly found out while Treasurer, WA's GST share continues to slide and the ability of state governments to act independently of the Commonwealth is in decline.
He wants to do something about this in the only theatre where he can: federal politics.
But first Porter will have to win over Liberal Party preselectors and then the local public in Pearce. The later shouldn't be too hard given the safe nature of the seat.
The former is less certain. Despite being head and shoulders above other candidates, Porter hasn't been able to campaign for preselection until now.
Had he done so, his tightly-held decision to shift parliaments would have leaked ahead of time.
Two myths (in my view) have surfaced since Porter's announcement: that it's a selfish move and it leaves the state government in the lurch.
What could be more selfish than staying in state politics to become premier one day just because he can?
That would have denied Liberals the chance to plan for a future leadership change to someone passionate about running the state, as Colin Barnett is now.
The notion that state Liberals have been left in the lurch is easily dismissed by looking at the likely replacements for Porter in his twin portfolios.
Troy Buswell should step into the treasury portfolio he previously held, and his economic know-how is second to none.
North Metropolitan MLC Michael Mischin was a more senior state prosecutor than Porter before entering parliament, making him more than capable of taking over the Attorney General portfolio.
Porter is talented, so to that extent he is a loss to WA state politics. But if successful at his tilt at federal politics, Porter's move to Canberra will be WA's gain, the electorate of Pearce's in particular.
* Peter van Onselen is a Winthrop Professor and Chair of Journalism at UWA