WA families deserve review into Public Trustee actions

Nov 16, 2022 | Nick Goiran MLC, State News

Member for Roe Peter Rundle has called for a wide-ranging inquiry to be held into the Office of the WA Public Trustee, following the Auditor General’s call for an urgent review.

Mr Rundle used Parliament this week to call on the Attorney General to respond to West Australian families impacted by the actions of the Public Trustee by referring the body to the Public Accounts Committee for investigation.

“Concerns have been raised in the media around the integrity of the Public Trustee to handle deceased estates, which the Attorney General should be taking seriously,” Mr Rundle said.

“I’ve had many people contact my office to tell me about their complex and difficult dealings with the Public Trustee, with the consistent message being it was unfair and at times, incompetent.

“The Attorney General ignored my calls for the Public Accounts Committee to conduct an inquiry into the Public Trustee, which is a slap in the face for angry and frustrated families.

“This inquiry would have given West Australians the opportunity to come forward and tell their story, but the Attorney General’s refusal is robbing these impacted families of the chance to do so.”

Shadow Attorney General Nick Goiran said it was troubling that the Premier and the Attorney General do not seem to appreciate that urgent action is needed in response to the Auditor General’s damning findings into the Public Trustee’s administration of trusts and deceased estates.

Mr Goiran said this was no time for confusion within or unreliability by the McGowan Labor Government.

“The Premier cannot expect that the damning finding that ‘trust fees did not always reflect actual work effort’ is an issue he and his Attorney General can kick down the road in the form of a Treasury review,” Mr Goiran said.

“It’s beggars’ belief that the Premier and the Attorney General are taking no action regarding the Public Trustee’s underwhelming proposal to publish a new brochure after a finding that ‘trust clients are not provided with a clear and easy to understand explanation of the fees that are more likely to be charged to their account’.

“It is no trivial matter to have the State intervene into your personal financial affairs. We were all alarmed by the Auditor General’s findings.

“Both the Premier and the Attorney General have had more than three months to get right on top of this – indeed they have shown they can act with lightning speed when they want to, yet in this instance they appear content to sit, wait and watch.”