Article – MP says WA Govt 'paranoia' restricting evidence to northern Australia committee

14 May 2014
ABC News
Federal Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan says it is frustrating that WA Government employees can be prevented from giving evidence to a federal parliamentary committee.
Ms MacTiernan is on the Federal Joint Select Committee examining how to develop northern Australia.
She says last week at a public hearing in Kununurra, the director of the Ord Expansion Two Project was unable give evidence in person, citing a State Government policy forbidding him to appear without special permission.
She says a similar thing happened a couple of weeks ago with the Pilbara Development Commission and the Pilbara Institute during hearings in the Pilbara.
Ms MacTiernan says it is counter-productive to hide things from the committee.
“I see a pattern of behaviour that shows a government that obviously feels under siege that they are not prepared to allow … senior people to come and talk to a bipartisan committee about what the needs of the region are and how we as the Federal Government can best assist,” she said.
“They are being, I think, very anal retentive here and not allowing there to be a frank discussion.
“We all know that development of northern Australia is hard, we’ve all got to work together.
“This is the committee led by the Coalition but obviously there’s a level of paranoia in the Barnett Government that stops people giving evidence.”
The director involved, Peter Stubbs, was removed from the schedule of witnesses on the day of the hearing but did give committee members a tour of Ord Stage Two.
Mr Stubbs says he was pleased to be able to participate in the tour and is confident the committee has a good grasp of the project’s challenges and opportunities.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Premier and Cabinet says the policy in question has been applied consistently since 1987.
She says for the most part, individual Government members do not have the right to be subjected to interrogation about departmental or Government policies without prior permission from the CEO or minister.
Courtesy of ABC News