Premier Colin Barnett says people who expect him to give 100 per cent accurate answers to questions during “light-hearted” FM radio interviews should “lighten up”.
Mr Barnett caused a stir on AM talkback radio this morning when asked why he gave two different answers a month apart to the same question.
The question was prompted after the discrepancy was highlighted today by The Fact Checker, an election coverage feature by political reporter Gareth Parker in The West Australian.
Got a fact you want checked? firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @G_Parker
On December 14, Mr Barnett said he guessed it would cost taxpayers $20 million if Labor carried out its threat to shift stadium plans to Subiaco, but on FM station Nova 93.7 on Monday he said “probably in the order of $100 million”.
When pressed by presenter Geoff Hutchison on ABC radio this morning, Mr Barnett said it was an “off the top estimate”.
“My first response is, lighten up a little. I’m on FM radio, in a light-hearted chat and the question comes up,” Mr Barnett said.
“How boring would I be to say, ‘Well hang on, I can’t answer that, I’m going to have to go and consult the Treasury documents and we’ll get it costed’.
“When we get to the election campaign and we put out our promises, if you like, our pledges, they will be fully costed and fully accountable.”
The Opposition pounced on that remark, likening it to Federal Liberal Leader Tony Abbott’s famous suggestion that only his scripted remarks could be taken as “the gospel truth”.
Shadow treasurer Ben Wyatt said: “Colin Barnett has had his Tony Abbott moment.”
“We now know, unless Colin Barnett is very well scripted, unless he’s signed off on what it is he’s saying, then you can’t trust a word he says,” Mr Wyatt said.
“I’ve know, the Opposition has known, that Colin Barnett will say and do anything at any particular point.
“Now Colin Barnett has gone and confirmed the fact that, well, depending on the audience, depending on the forum, he may or may not be telling you the truth.
“This wasn’t a light-moment gag (on FM radio) this was a serious question to the Premier, and he made it up.”
Later today during a press conference, Mr Barnett said $100 million figure was not far off the mark.
He said the $20 million had referred to what the Government had spent so far preparing Burswood for the stadium.
“All of that money would have to be re-spent at least at Subiaco, there’s another $20 million,” he said.
“The project is delayed two to three years (by taking it to Subiaco, with) escalation probably 3 per cent on a billion-dollar project over these years, pretty quickly you get up to a big number.
“Whether it’s exactly $100 million or not, I don’t know, I don’t care.”