The new Cook Labor Government is a lost opportunity for a real reset and a continuation of underperforming ministers, according to Shadow Treasurer and WA Liberal Deputy Leader Dr Steve Thomas.
“The Government has a raft of ministers whose performances were an embarrassment to the former Premier, but the new Premier has kept them on,” Dr Thomas said.
“They must be hoping Roger Cook can cast an equally long shadow and keep them in the shade like Mark McGowan did.
“This was a prime opportunity to replace the “confused and confusing” Attorney-General John Quigley and move on ministers like Sue Ellery and perhaps Bill Johnston who are leaving in less than two years anyway.
“It’s clear the unions prevented any real and beneficial change.”
Dr Thomas said the Government appears to recognise its own shortcomings by having nearly as many parliamentary secretaries as ministers appointed.
“There are 15 parliamentary secretaries on the list compared to 18 ministers, eight of them in the same chamber as the minister they are supposed to be representing,” Dr Thomas said.
“In the final year of the previous Government there were nine parliamentary secretaries.
“It looks like the plan for the Cook Labor Government is to retain dud ministers and have someone hold their hands rather than replace them.”
Dr Thomas also raised concerns about Minister Rita Saffioti adding Treasury to her Transport portfolio.
“In Transport Rita Saffioti has overseen some of the biggest cost blowouts in WA history, and now she will control the Treasury as well, which does not bode well for either financial management or transparency,” Dr Thomas said.
“It’s not just the METRONET project that has blown out, rising from $3 billion to $11.5 billion so far.
“The Bunbury Outer Ring Road project she is overseeing has blown out by $500 million dollars, while at the same time the scope has reduced. The WA government is paying more to deliver less, costing the state half a billion dollars.
“As the economy corrects and the free money Mark McGowan got from iron ore royalties declines, our new Treasurer will have a heck of a job balancing the demands from here on. Other portfolio holders can rightly look nervous.”