Ex-Labor man to cost its policies
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.