The $19.5 million fund to prop up embattled coal miner Griffin Coal has already been exceeded, according to a statement made by the Premier today.
Shadow Treasurer Dr Steve Thomas said that the original $19.5 million bailout fund saw a $7.3 million payout back in April, largely used to keep an excavator going at the mine site, with an additional $15.9 million payment announced today.
In each case, the government only made the payments public in statements after questions lodged by Dr Thomas in Parliament.
“Once again the Government has been dragged kicking and screaming to the table of accountability, despite the new Premier’s commitment to his predecessor’s supposed gold standard transparency,” Dr Thomas said.
“After announcing a fund in December last year, the Government initially refused to tell us how much it contained.
“Later in January they had to confess it was $19.5 million, but said they were going to get it back from Griffin over time.
“Then they changed their minds and admitted it was gone, before changing their minds again and hopefully suggesting that some other entity might take over Griffin and pay it back.
“Now the new Premier has acknowledged (after receiving another question from me this morning) that they have handed over $23.2 million so far, representing a $3.7 million or 20% blow out in six months.”
Dr Thomas said the debacle occurring in the Western Australian coal mines was an embarrassment of mismanagement and incompetence spread across both the Government and private sectors.
“The business position of Griffin Coal, which is in receivership and administration, is not the direct fault of the Government, but the failure to improve the situation over the last six years can be laid squarely at their door,” Dr Thomas said.
“The previous Premier was right – this mess will take years to fix and cost taxpayers millions more in handouts to a company in receivership, without the slightest chance of recouping it.
“The irony of the statement being made on the same day I am about to debate the Collie Coal (Griffin) Agreement Bill should not be lost on anyone.
“The new Government has started its first day in Parliament in a situation of high farce, which is hardly an auspicious beginning.”