Paul Papalia was born in Bunbury and raised in the small south west town of Burekup. He entered the Royal Australian Navy and served in the military for 26 years, commanding a Clearance Diving Team, a navy patrol boat and the Navy’s submarine escape and rescue service. Paul served in the counter terrorist squadron of the Special Air Service Regiment and was deployed on operations to Iraq on two occasions. He was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) and Commendations from both the Land and Maritime Commanders.
Paul was first elected to the seat of Peel in February 2007, to the new seat of Warnbro in 2008 and subsequently re-elected in 2013 and 2017. Paul has served as Shadow Minister for Tourism, Corrective Services and Defence Issues.
In March 2017, Paul was appointed as Minister for Tourism, Racing and Gaming, Small Business, Defence Issues, Citizenship and Multicultural Interests in the McGowan Government.
Over the past three years Paul has focused on the delivery of the Government’s pledge to create jobs for Western Australians and diversify our economy by increasing interstate and international visitation.
He is overseeing the investment of $425 million over five years to enhance destination marketing and event tourism, leading campaigns that position Western Australia as the alternative gateway to Australia in key markets and attracting major events that encourage people to explore our extraordinary State. He is actively pursuing airlines to increase direct flights to Perth and is spreading the message that Western Australia is a high quality, affordable destination for business and leisure travellers, international students and their families.
More recently Paul has driven initiatives to assist the State’s tourism industry to survive and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.