Western Australian taxpayers will foot the bill for the latest episode involving State Attorney General John Quigley.
The judge presiding over the defamation trial between Clive Palmer and Premier Mark McGowan has agreed that Mr Quigley can provide further evidence following an application which admitted mistakes had been made the first time.
“The judge’s decision to permit a ‘do-over’, is entirely understandable,” said Shadow Attorney General, Nick Goiran.
“If I was told that wrong, incorrect, or mistaken answers had been provided during any hearing I was presiding over, I would want an in-person explanation too.
“This embarrassing, avoidable and costly debacle has occurred because Western Australia has an Attorney General who is unreliable. It is astonishing that our State’s first law officer needs a ‘do-over’ in court.”
In January, the Attorney General and Premier applied unsuccessfully to avoid giving their evidence in open court.
Their application was dismissed by Justice Michael Lee who described video-link hearings as “suboptimal” and re-iterating his “firm preference” for parties in defamation cases to give evidence in person.
“This latest request by the Attorney General is akin to an actor wanting to re-take a scene in a movie or a singer wanting to re-do a song.
“The big difference is that neither the actor nor the singer is giving evidence under oath in a court of law.
“It is no wonder the Judge insisted that Mr Quigley’s evidence be given in-person the first time and all the more understandable that he has insisted the same for the sequel,” said Mr Goiran.
This episode is the latest in what has been a succession of embarrassing and disconcerting events that have amplified fears that the Attorney General is no longer up to the task.
These events include the Attorney General:
• failing to investigate stunning allegations of bullying and evidence tampering by judicial officers;
• exposed by the Procedure & Privileges Committee for being at the centre of a plan that lead to WA law being breached more than 1000 times with the unlawful release of privileged documents;
• failing to disclose a helicopter ride gift; and
• intervening in the unfair dismissal case of a former staffer of Roger Cook resulting in Mr Cook not being summoned to give evidence.
Shadow Treasurer Dr Steve Thomas called for transparency as to who will foot the bill for Attorney General John Quigley’s blunder.
“Though the current mining boom has gifted the McGowan Government a $5 billion surplus this year, wasting taxpayer funds on an entirely avoidable sequel to this courtroom drama, is unjustified.
“The Premier, in his capacity as Treasurer needs to come clean on precisely how much taxpayer money has been expended on this exercise. The avoidable costs like the Premier’s counterclaim and the Attorney General’s “do-over” need to be included in that figure,” said Dr Thomas.