McGowan Aims For More Transparent Government Following Langoulant Inquiry

WA’s Labor Government has promised a more open government in the wake of a damning report of the Liberal Party’s spending during the last eight years in government.

Premier Mark McGowan said it was “it is something we’re working on” to avoid the mistakes of the former government by endeavouring to adopt the recommendations in the Langoulant inquiry.

“I am committed to it, how and when we do it is something that we have to work through,” Mr McGowan said.

“Whether it’s in the course of the next three years or if we’re lucky enough to win the next state election after that, that’s one of the things we have to work out.”

Mr McGowan said he had already committed to a more transparent government at the 2013 State election but the current “straightened” financial situation would make it difficult to do so.

Report author John Langoulant criticised former premier Colin Barnett’s government in his report  for using commercial confidentiality explain why it did not release financial details of projects.

He stated the confidentiality resulted in the downfall in WA’s budget and the resulting high levels of deficit and debt.

The McGowan government will endorse the recommendations with the exception that Royalties for Regions funding will remain a “hypothecated” account and the $1 billion expenditure cap will be retained.

“The Liberals and Nations left behind structural budget deficits and a record amount of debt that needs to be addressed with financial discipline being the key driving factor,” Treasurer Ben Wyatt said.

“Unsustainable spending decisions and poor governance practices must remain in the past.”

However, while Mr McGowan said his government would work towards becoming more transparent, there were situations where it would not be in WA’s best interest to do so.

“The default position should be that information is released unless there’s a good reason not to,” he said.

“40 per cent of occasions found the government hid information, the former government hid information without good reason.”

He referred to bidding for tourism events as an example of “a good reason” to not release information.

“In the case let’s say of Mr Federer, if it’s revealed the price that is paid for him to come to Western Australia to participate in a sporting event, well then we might get outbid by Melbourne or Sydney or Brisbane for him to go to an event,” Mr McGowan said.

“If the ultimate outcome is you then don’t get tourism events, or then don’t get sporting events to Western Australia because you’re releasing information, well that’s one the relative considerations.”

Labor has faced backlash for not disclosing details including Perth Stadium’s naming rights deal and the cost of Mr Federer’s agreement to come to Perth for the Hopman Cup and “selfie” with a quokka.

When asked about Mr Federer’s deal with the State Government, Mr Gowan said he was unaware of the details of the deal.

“I don’t know what was contained in the contract,” he said.

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