Premier Colin Barnett has refused to rule out the prospect of a fresh Cabinet reshuffle before the year is out, as criticism of the performance of his Police and Emergency Services Minister continues to dog the Government.
Mr Barnett today offered a fresh expression of confidence in the performance of Rob Johnson after the release last week of the damning Keelty report into the performance of WA’s fire and emergency services.
Asked directly if he planned to reshuffle his front bench at the end of the year, Mr Barnett said he had not yet decided.
But he indicated that he would review the composition of his team towards the end of the year after the Liberal Party preselection process for candidates for the next State poll in March 2013 was under way.
“I will obviously look at the composition of the Government – not just the Cabinet, the whole Government – towards the end of the year,” Mr Barnett said. “That will be the time the Liberal Party starts its preselections and I would want to have in place people in the portfolios, the personnel that will take us through to the next election.”
Asked if he could guarantee that Mr Johnson would retain his portfolios, the Premier said: “I’m not guaranteeing that even I will be Premier. It’s a long time away.”
Last week, The West Australian reported that some Government MPs privately expressed disbelief at Mr Barnett’s refusal to axe Mr Johnson.
“To stand there and tell everyone that none of this was his fault, that he took no responsibility for what went wrong, was political stupidity that beggars belief,” one senior Liberal told The West Australian.
Today, Mr Barnett said no one within the Government had expressed that view to him.
“As I said last week, the report was not about the Minister,” Mr Barnett said. “It was about the relationships within FESA and other organisations. And we are dealing with that with the highest priority within Government.”