Member for Roe Peter Rundle has called for an inquiry into the WA Public Trustee to ensure financial affairs of vulnerable West Australians are being prudently managed.
Mr Rundle used Question Time this week to ask the Attorney General to investigate the agency and make sure its clients’ affairs are being carefully handled, without profit to the organisation.
“A recent Four Corners expose highlighted some deeply concerning actions that Public Trustees take with clients’ money, including a case from Western Australia,” Mr Rundle said.
“The program also raised concerns with the way the Public Trustee can use a client’s own funds to fight against the client, the mismanagement of money throughout a case, the neglect of a client’s property and the disregard for their welfare.
“With $1.4 billion held in trust for vulnerable people, West Australians deserve reassurance that in the event they are taken under the care of the Public Trustee, they will be looked after.”
Mr Rundle said there will always be a need for the Public Trustee in certain circumstances but concerns around the legal operations informing some decisions need to be addressed.
“For instance, the sale of a family asset for below current value, as highlighted last year by a WA family when the Public Trustee sold two properties well below the asking price.
“We need to know that if the Public Trustee takes over an estate, they are working for the client and not the State.
“Four Corners rightly questioned the power given to the Public Trustee and the legalities of using clients’ funds however they choose, including for legal representation.
“The Queensland Government was forced to hold an inquiry into their Public Trustee, I am glad the Attorney General took heed of this decision and offered similar reassurance to the people of WA.”