The Shadow Treasurer Dr Steve Thomas has welcomed the introduction of a new bill by the Government today aimed at boosting accountability, but says that there is still a long way to go to achieve true “gold standard transparency”.
“As the Opposition Leader in 2017 Mark McGowan promised the state “gold standard transparency” but has instead delivered a leaden standard of opacity” Dr Thomas said.
“The Government’s lack of accountability has been recognised by the Opposition, the cross-bench of Parliament, the media, and even the Auditor General’s office itself.”
“So, I welcome any attempt, no matter how half hearted, to improve transparency.”
“However, the Auditor General Amendment Bill 2022 does not provide full and frank public disclosure.”
“The Bill will improve the Auditor General’s access to information, and that is good.”
“But it specifically prohibits public disclosure of that information.”
“That means that the Auditor General will be giving reports and opinions based on information that she is unable to share with the community or the Parliament.”
“We will get an opinion without the information on which that opinion is based.” Dr Thomas said that better disclosure was important given the secrecy the Government has been using.
“This Bill is a small step in the right direction, but it is not full transparency as it leaves many issues opaque.” ‘In Opposition Mark McGowan said in relation to Perth Stadium contracts:
“We still do not know the exact cost of the stadium deal. On Sunday it was announced that there will be a Socceroos game in Perth. The government would not reveal what the cost of that is. It rolls on and on and on. The taxpayers, who provide the money for the government to spend, do not know how much the government is spending on various deals.
Every single day the government has these commercial-in-confidence arrangements. Not revealing the cost of the Socceroos playing in Western Australia: I mean, honestly. The culture of this government and its addiction to secrecy is extraordinary. The default position for the government is that it just does not tell; it does not tell anything. That has to change. If we are elected, we will reveal the cost of these deals, because taxpayers have a right to know. Transparency and accountability mean something. Taxpayers will find out if Labor is elected.”
Hansard 14 June 2016
“I would simply like the Premier to apply the same passion for transparency in Government as he had in Opposition” Dr Thomas said.