JOE SPAGNOLO Political Editor Insider tells Libs how to unsettle Premier
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.”