The head of a parliamentary committee has slammed the Auditor General for refusing to answer questions at a public hearing into unsafe wooden poles in Western Power’s network.
In January Auditor General Colin Murphy wrote to the committee, which handed down a report calling for a dramatic overhaul of the utility including the removal of its boss Doug Aberle, to complain the report contained “inaccuracies and misunderstandings.”
The report had also criticised Mr Murphy for failing to conduct a performance audit of Western Power despite myriad concerns raised by EnergySafety and the Economic Regulation Authority about the utility’s asset management and practises.
The committee arranged for a public hearing with Mr Murphy in June so he could explain his concerns about the committee report.
But committee chair Max Trenorden today tabled a report which criticised Mr Murphy for refusing to answer questions at that hearing, as well as failing to provide information that was requested by the committee.
Mr Trenorden said it was unprecedented for a committee to take aim at an auditor general but he believed it was warranted.
“It’s a serious breakdown in the relationship between the auditor general and the parliament,” he said.
Mr Trenorden said the public should have “grave concerns” about Mr Murphy’s refusal to co-operate with a committee, given the auditor general’s act gives him power to release the information requested.
"He has failed to meet the requirements of his special relationship that should exist between his office and his only client, the Parliament of Western Australia."
The report recommends the Legislative Council forces Mr Murphy to provide detailed responses to questions asked by the committee.