The McGowan Government’s failure to release the findings of the Crime and Corruption Commission inquiry into the contents of a laptop owned by former MP, Phil Edman amounts to political interference in an independent anti-corruption body, according to the WA Opposition.
Current Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council Steve Thomas and former leader Peter Collier said the lack of transparency around the findings undermined public trust in the Government’s will and ability to hold elected officials accountable and uphold the highest standards of ethical conduct.
Under questioning from Dr Thomas on Wednesday, CCC Commissioner John McKecknie admitted the contents of the laptop “did not live up to its hype” and the investigation was closed. Mr Collier asked
further questions in Parliament on Thursday that revealed the investigation concluded in April 2022.
In 2020 and 2021, the Liberals and all other parties in the Legislative Council, other than the Government,
had opposed the release of privileged data on the laptop to the CCC.
Mr Collier said Premier Mark McGowan and Attorney General John Quigley had used the Liberal Party’s
defence of the convention of parliamentary privilege to relentlessly launch accusations of corruption and
terrorism against its members.
“However, when those accusations were found to be unjustified and unfounded, nearly a year ago, the
Premier and Attorney General stayed silent,” Mr Collier said.
“The fact that there was no incriminating evidence against any other member of parliament on the laptop
comes as no surprise to us but must have been a big disappointment to the Premier who sacked this
State’s first female President of the Legislative Council, Kate Doust, for her unwavering defence of
“This incident reeks of political interference and we will continue to push for greater transparency and
accountability from this Government.”
Dr Thomas said that given the enormous public interest in the investigation, driven by salacious
commentary from Mr Edman himself and the McGowan Government, the public and WA Parliament were
owed an explanation as to why the results were kept secret for almost a year.
“Given the allegations of an attempted cover up that the Labor Government pushed relentlessly, the
actual result is a sad joke,” Dr Thomas said. “The Attorney General and the CCC had a moral obligation to
make the outcome known, because the debate in the Upper House was brutal and damaging to members
on both sides who were not involved in anything except seeking due process.
“Not releasing the outcome when it happened was cunning, duplicitous and arrogant.”
The WA Opposition is calling for the Premier and Attorney General to issue a public apology to all members of the previous parliament who did the right thing by protecting parliamentary privilege.