Pre­mier can seize chance for new look

The Advertiser - - LETTERS -

THE res­ig­na­tions of two cab­i­net min­is­ters have given Pre­mier Jay Weather­ill the op­por­tu­nity to re­ju­ve­nate his cab­i­net six months out from the next state elec­tion.

While the de­par­ture of Health and Arts Min­is­ter Jack Snelling leaves a gap in the Gov­ern­ment’s se­nior ranks, the res­ig­na­tion of the other health port­fo­lio min­is­ter, Leesa Vlahos, was both in­evitable and over­due.

Ms Vlahos failed in her role as Min­is­ter for Dis­abil­i­ties, Men­tal Health and Sub­stance abuse when she was put to the test by the Oak­den aged care cri­sis. She was slow to read or re­spond to the alarm­ing re­port by Chief Psy­chi­a­trist Dr Aaron Groves into the abuse of res­i­dents at the men­tal health fa­cil­ity for older peo­ple.

Ms Vlahos’ rev­e­la­tion in May that her only con­ver­sa­tions with Men­tal Health Com­mis­sioner Chris Burns about the cri­sis at Oak­den had been dur­ing a chance en­counter at a hard­ware store rightly an­gered the fam­i­lies of res­i­dents at the home.

As re­vealed in The Ad­ver­tiser to­day, Ms Vlahos will move to the back­bench of Par­lia­ment to fo­cus on re­cov­er­ing from a pe­riod of ill­health while con­tin­u­ing as the MP for Tay­lor.

Mr Weather­ill will to­day un­veil the min­istry he plans to take to the next elec­tion. He would be wise to use the de­par­tures of Mr Snelling and Ms Vlahos to com­bine their for­mer health-re­lated port­fo­lios un­der a sin­gle min­is­ter and re­duce the size of the cab­i­net.

Cut­ting the size of the min­istry from 14 to 13 would save money while hav­ing a neg­li­gi­ble im­pact on Gov­ern­ment ef­fi­ciency.

The Ad­ver­tiser re­vealed in 2014 that the ad­di­tion of for­mer Lib­eral leader Martin Hamil­ton-Smith to cab­i­net would cost tax­pay­ers about $8 mil­lion in of­fice and staffing ex­penses.

The Gov­ern­ment now has an op­por­tu­nity to set an ex­am­ple for the rest of the state’s overly-large pub­lic sec­tor by elim­i­nat­ing the ex­pense of one min­is­ter. That would be an an­nounce­ment to be wel­comed by vot­ers who will cast their ver­dict on the La­bor Gov­ern­ment on March 17 next year.

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