Barnett refuses to front probe
FORMER premier Colin Barnett has confirmed he refused to front the McGowan Government’s special inquiry into WA’s record debt and deficit.
The Commission of Inquiry, headed by former under treasurer John Langoulant, is probing 26 projects started during Mr Barnett’s time in power.
Yesterday, Cottesloe’s Liberal MP said he had “declined to appear” before the $1.5 million inquiry, which he dismissed as a “politically motivated” and “expensive” exercise. “Langoulant approached me. He posed a few questions,” Mr Barnett said. “I gave him a brief written reply and declined to appear.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate that members of parliament appear.
“It is a Public Sector Commission Inquiry, it is meant to apply to public servants.”
An inquiry spokesman said Mr Barnett would not be subpoenaed to appear.
“I think the whole thing is largely a waste of money and politically motivated. That’s what it is — and it’s expensive,” Mr Barnett said.
Speaking from China, where he is on a trip promoting WA for students and tourists, Mr McGowan said: “It was (Mr Barnett’s) choice.
“But I would have thought he would want to explain how he accumulated $30-$40 billion of additional debt and explain all of those various projects and how they ended up blowing out and causing the grief they caused.”
Liberals, including Opposition Leader Mike Nahan, believe the inquiry is nothing more than a witch-hunt and argue it should include Laborinitiated projects. Dr Nahan and National Party leader Mia Davies this week fronted the Langoulant inquiry.
The Sunday Times can also reveal Mr Langoulant has been granted an extension for handing his report to the Public Sector Commissioner. Originally, it was supposed to be handed to the PSC this month.
Now, that deadline has been pushed out to December 15 — five days before the mid-year review of the State’s finances is supposed to be handed down by Treasurer Ben Wyatt. There is strong speculation, the inquiry and the mid-year review will be released together.