Dumped police minister Rob Johnson has lashed out at Premier Colin Barnett, saying he felt “betrayed” by the Liberal leader after being thrown out of Cabinet.
“I suppose in a way I feel slightly betrayed because I have been absolutely loyal to Colin Barnett ever since I’ve been a minister,” Mr Johnson said today in Melbourne, where he is attending a police ministers’ meeting.
Speaking after yesterday's cabinet reshuffle, Mr Johnson said he had made a case to stay as minister, but Mr Barnett had already made his decision.
“Obviously I’m disappointed that Colin Barnett made the decision to basically dump me, and that’s the truth of it, he dumped me,” he said.
“I didn’t resign, he dumped me eight months out from an election, at a time when we are actually doing quite well in the polls.”
Mr Johnson said Mr Barnett was unable to tell him why he had been dumped other than “he wanted to bring some new faces into Cabinet”.
“I think there’s a risk involved there, but of course that’s the Premier’s problem, if I can put it that way, to now deal with that risk,” Mr Johnson said.
Mr Barnett today denied that he had betrayed Mr Johnson and said he did not believe the Hillarys MP had challenged his authority in his comments.
When asked if his friendship with Mr Johnson would suffer her said “I hope not”.
“I understand his disappointment but I’m sure when Rob gets over that disappointment he will contribute to the Government as he always had,” Mr Barnett said.
The Premier said he had no problem taking Mr Johnson to the election as part of his parliamentary Liberal team.
“Rob’s indicated he wants to stand again, that’s his choice, he’s very popular, very highly respected within his electorate,” he said.
“Rob has already been endorsed as the candidate for the next election.”
Mr Barnett denied he had given Mr Johnson any guarantee he would be police minister at the next election, saying there were no guarantees in politics.
“Rob from previous conversations could have expected – and every minister expects to go through the term – but I decided in leading up to the election we needed some new faces in Cabinet,” he said.
“No minister, no premier has that sort of guarantee. What is true is that perhaps two months ago I knew there would be some changes, I was not thinking at that stage of such a wide ranging change.”
Mr Johnson said he had no hard feelings towards incoming Police Minister Liza Harvey, but warned the inexperienced first-termer would find the police portfolio “very challenging”.
He said he would offer Ms Harvey any help she requested.
Mr Johnson said he was proud of what he had achieved over four years as police minister and paid tribute to members of the WA police force.
“I think they are the best police force in Australia. They are tremendous people who are doing a tremendous job.”
Mr Johnson said many police officers, and people from across the state, had contacted him with messages of support.
“I’ve been inundated since yesterday with phone calls and text messages and emails from people all over WA, and some interstate, thanking me for the work that I’ve done and showing the tremendous support that they have for me,” he said.
Mr Johnston dismissed suggestions he would push to become Speaker and said he was committed to run again for the seat of Hillarys at the next State election in March 2013.