The McGowan Government’s obsession with secret deals and hiding information from the West Australian public has again been laid bare.
The Auditor General today found the Minister for Regional Development’s decision to withhold details regarding Labor’s election promise to build a wave farm off the Albany coast was unreasonable and inappropriate.
Energy spokesperson Terry Redman said a key tactic of the Government for withholding information has been to trigger section 82 of the Financial Management Act.
Figures show McGowan Government Ministers have issued section 82 notices in Parliament 42 times since coming to power less than two years ago.
“This compares with 55 times during the Liberal-National Government’s entire four-year second term and just 12 in our first term,” Mr Redman said.
The latest section 82 notice was sparked when Nationals MP Martin Aldridge asked the Minister to table the financial assistance agreement the Government signed with Carnegie Clean Energy to deliver a controversial taxpayer-subsidised wave farm off the Albany coast.
“The Minister has chosen to withhold what the Auditor General describes as at least 70 per cent of publicly available information in the redacted version of the submission that’s been put to Parliament,” Mr Redman said.
“The report shows the Minister was not reasonable in her decision and therefore the decision not to provide the information was inappropriate.
“The finding again highlights the lack of transparency of this Labor Government that once sold itself to the public on a ‘rolled gold’ platform of accountability going into the last election.”
Mr Redman said the wave farm project had a number of shortfalls which had been exposed by The Nationals through Freedom of Information documents and parliamentary questions.
“There’s been a lot of commentary about the financial stability of the company that’s delivering the project and the Minister’s relationship with the company prior to coming to office,” he said.
“The Minister has consistently extended Carnegie’s timelines even though they haven’t met the targets that they’re required to meet to get taxpayer funding.
“Despite all this the Government has still paid Carnegie part of the first tranche of taxpayer funds – $2.5 million – and now we find the Minister has been withholding information from the public as to not allow full scrutiny of the project.”