Hames hinted for old job back

Daniel Emerson

Deputy Premier Kim Hames said yesterday he "might have dropped a few hints" to Colin Barnett that he wanted his cherished Tourism portfolio back, 18 months after he lost it for wrongfully claiming entitlements.

On Monday, the Premier said the Government "needs to do better" on Training and Workforce Development and gave the portfolio to Liza Harvey, who ceded Tourism to Dr Hames.

Mr Barnett said he wanted Mrs Harvey to take Training on as a long-term project, which Dr Hames could not do because he was retiring at the 2017 election.

Shadow tourism minister Paul Papalia said yesterday that Mr Barnett was displaying skewed standards by suggesting Dr Hames had underperformed in Training but rewarding him with his favoured Tourism portfolio.

Dr Hames, who was stripped of Tourism in July last year after wrongly claiming the $266 country MPs' metropolitan accommodation allowance four times, said he was happy to be back in the job he loved. He rejected any suggestion the punishment was light and said part of the reason he was swapping portfolios with Mrs Harvey was because Tourism involved a lot of after-hours work.

"Minister Liza Harvey has a lot on her plate, with her husband recently passing away and Tour-ism does require a lot of extra after-hours work," he said. "A lot of functions, evenings and weekends - very difficult for her to do.

"I think I've done my penance really and I don't think it's unreasonable now after 18 months to give me the portfolio back."

Dr Hames hit the ground running by giving a tourism-themed speech at an Australian Hotels Association end-of-year function on Monday.

Tourism Council chief executive Evan Hall said the industry was pleased the portfolio was back with the Deputy Premier.

"We think it's appropriate Tourism go to the most senior levels of Cabinet," he said. "As the resources sector declines, we will be the source of jobs growth, so tourism needs to be embedded in economic policy."