Opposition calls for Special Inquiry into Labor programs and projects

The Opposition will seek to establish a Special Inquiry into Government Programs and Projects to shine a light on the State Government’s poor economic management and failure to deliver key projects over the past seven years.

Opposition Leader Shane Love MLA said he would this week move a motion to establish the Special Inquiry which would report to Parliament prior to the 2025 State election.

“If the Cook Labor Government is confident with their project management over the past seven years and has nothing to hide then they should support this Special Inquiry.

“The inquiry will examine the overall economic management of WA as provided by successive Labor Governments from 2017 onwards, starting with the so-called Local Projects Local Jobs program,” Mr Love said.

“It will also consider the planning and management of major projects, including Metronet, the Women & Babies Hospital, and the new pedestrian bridge in the CBD which has blown out from a $50 million project to $140 million without batting an eye.”

Mr Love said inquiry would allow for greater scrutiny around the costs and delivery of Labor’s signature election commitment, the multi-billion-dollar Metronet project.

“We know this project has ballooned from $3 billion to well over $11 billion, but very little detail has been provided around how and why this program has exploded in scope and budget,” Mr Love said.

“Just last week, the Transport Minister revealed that the initial Metronet costings for like-for-like projects had blown out from $3 billion to $5.5 billion, without adequate explanation as to the cause of how the Government is managing this.”

Mr Love also pointed to the Auditor General’s annual Major Projects transparency report, which called for more accountability around Government spending.

“For the past several years, the last bastion of truth and transparency provided to WA taxpayers has come in the form of the Auditor General, who has sought to hold the Labor Government to account for their broken promises to the people of WA,” Mr Love said.

“It’s time we as a Parliament give credence to the myriad of issues the Auditor General has identified, and only a Special Inquiry can provide a fearless independent examination into Labor’s spending decisions around major projects.

“This includes Labor’s broken promise to redevelop the Geraldton Health Campus, which is now WA’s most delayed project, some six years behind schedule.

“Transport infrastructure, including the cost-overruns on the Bunbury Outer Ring Road and lengthy delays to Bindoon Bypass must also be examined.”

Mr Love said a Special Inquiry would also be tasked with examining decisions made during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic saw the Government disregard good procurement and contract arrangements on multiple occasions, including panic-buying more than $500 million worth of Rapid Antigen Tests, millions of which ended up in landfill.”

Mr Love said the Government’s copious taskforces would also be scrutinised.

“We know the Treasury Housing taskforce has not delivered a single new house for WA families, the GST freedom fighters have not been hired, and the independent commercial advisor’s report on the future of Gold Corp is yet to materialise.”

“Meanwhile, WA families are struggling with a housing and cost-of-living crisis, our health system continues to deteriorate, and our State Budget is on track to reach record high debt levels, surpassing $38 billion by 2027.

“Only a Special Inquiry will be able to properly examine and scrutinise the Cook Labor Government’s poor financial management processes, their misaligned priorities, their inefficient project management, and their lack of transparency.”

Mr Love said if the State Government failed to support the Special Inquiry, the Opposition would commit to their own inquiry when returned to Government in 2025.