RAT TRAP

JOE SPAG­NOLO Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor In­sider tells Libs how to un­set­tle Premier

The Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

DAM­AG­ING new claims have emerged of treach­ery within the WA La­bor Party, with a se­nior Lib­eral claim­ing a La­bor MP had coached the Op­po­si­tion on how to fire off ques­tions to Premier Mark McGowan in State Par­lia­ment.

The Lib­eral MP, who asked not to be named, said a se­nior mem­ber of Mr McGowan’s par­lia­men­tary team had coached them on how to best ask ques­tions of the La­bor leader so that he “could not wrig­gle out” of giv­ing cor­rect an­swers.

The Lib­eral MP said an­other se­nior La­bor MP had openly crit­i­cised to the Op­po­si­tion Mr McGowan’s de­ci­sion to give Al­bany MP Peter Wat­son the job of Speaker and to make new­com­ers Reece Whitby and John Carey par­lia­men­tary sec­re­taries.

“The La­bor MP said to me (af­ter ques­tion time) ‘stop giv­ing Mark so much wrig­gle room. You are giv­ing him too much wrig­gle room to get out of (an­swer­ing) the ques­tion’,” the Lib­eral MP told The Sun­day Times.

“The La­bor MP said ‘you guys are be­ing too broad on your ques­tion­ing of McGowan. You need to tighten up your ques­tions’. They said ‘Be more spe­cific and stop giv­ing him so much wrig­gle room’.

“In re­gards to Peter Wat­son, an­other La­bor MP said he (Mr Wat­son) was shock­ing (as Speaker) and that there were peo­ple more suit­ably qual­i­fied to do that role.”

La­bor has al­ready been con­fronted by claims that there is at least one rat in the ranks af­ter an email with at­tach­ments from the Premier’s strat­egy ad­viser to La­bor elec­torates — soon af­ter the Septem­ber 7 Bud­get — was sent to Op­po­si­tion Leader Mike Na­han. A pho­to­graph from in­side a meet­ing of La­bor’s cau­cus was also sent to Dr Na­han.

Re­spected WA po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst, Harry Phillips, said yes­ter­day that in his 50 years of fol­low­ing WA pol­i­tics, he had never seen any­thing like the un­der­handed tac­tics.

He de­scribed the lat­est rev­e­la­tions as “un­be­liev­able”.

“Ob­vi­ously, it is hap­pen­ing to a very small ex­tent but it is dan­ger­ous and it can un­der­mine the spirit and trust of the La­bor Party,” Dr Phillips said.

“He (Mr McGowan) must erad­i­cate this sort of ac­tion within his party.

“In the long run, this would be too dam­ag­ing if it con­tin­ued.”

Acts of treach­ery have led to fin­ger-point­ing in the La­bor Party, with sev­eral high-pro­file La­bor MPs say­ing any­one who was a rat in the ranks needed to be ex­posed.

A spokesman for Mr McGowan last night said: “This is des­per­a­tion from the Lib­er­als, they have hit a new low.

“Given the qual­ity of par­lia­men­tary ques­tions from them, it’s clear the so-called coach­ing hasn’t been suc­cess­ful and they’re prob­a­bly look­ing for a re­fund.”

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