Ex-La­bor man to cost its poli­cies

Pilbara News - - Election 2017 - Daniel Emer­son

One of two for­mer high-rank­ing pub­lic ser­vants ap­pointed by the Op­po­si­tion to in­de­pen­dently cost its elec­tion poli­cies is a for­mer mem­ber of the La­bor Party.

Colin Bar­nett last week cast doubt on the im­par­tial­ity of for­mer pub­lic ser­vice com­mis­sioner Mike Wood while heap­ing pres­sure on La­bor leader Mark McGowan to sub­mit the party’s elec­tion prom­ises to Trea­sury.

La­bor last month an­nounced it would not use Trea­sury, as it had in 2013, and had ap­pointed Pro­fes­sor Wood and for­mer as­sis­tant au­di­tor-gen­eral David Gilchrist to cost its prom­ises.

The Premier said Pro­fes­sor Wood, who was ap­pointed by for­mer La­bor premier Brian Burke and served as sec­re­tary for lo­cal gov­ern­ment from 1984-1990 be­fore head­ing the pub­lic ser­vice, was “a de­cent guy” but the process was “not ob­jec­tive”.

Mr Bar­nett said Pro­fes­sor Wood was “closely as­so­ci­ated with the La­bor Party and Brian Burke” but in­di­cated he was un­aware if he was a mem­ber. But Seven West Me­dia has learnt Pro­fes­sor Wood was a mem­ber of the La­bor Party in Tas­ma­nia in the 1970s be­fore mov­ing to WA.

SWM tried to ask Pro­fes­sor Wood, now an ad­junct pro­fes­sor of man­age­ment in the school of busi­ness at Notre Dame Univer­sity, whether his past po­lit­i­cal lean­ing would af­fect his im­par­tial­ity.

La­bor re­sponded with a state­ment say­ing that it, “like the me­dia”, was not in­ter­ested in whether Trea­sury of­fi­cials had po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tions.

“Both Pro­fes­sor Wood and Pro­fes­sor Gilchrist have strong rep­u­ta­tions be­cause they have the abil­ity to act pro­fes­sion­ally and in­de­pen­dently and this is why WA La­bor sought their con­tri­bu­tion,” the state­ment said.

While op­po­si­tions in past elec­tions have used pri­vate ac­count­ing firms to cost elec­tion com­mit­ments, Mr Bar­nett said “the new rule” was to have Trea­sury do it.

Mr McGowan said he would not take lec­tures on cost­ings from Mr Bar­nett given the state of WA’s fi­nances.

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