West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has again defended senior Minister Troy Buswell, after more lurid claims regarding alleged drunken behaviour from the State’s Treasurer.
Mr Barnett was speaking after weekend claims that Mr Buswell "dry-humped" a prominent Perth businessman during a private function last year, in an incident confirmed by his former partner and Independent MP Adele Carles.
It’s the latest embarrassment for Mr Buswell, who was forced to resign as treasurer in 2010, having previously stood down as WA Liberal leader in 2008 following the infamous "chair sniffing" scandal.
Mr Barnett said he was "disappointed" by the latest story and admitted Mr Buswell "lived life on the edge", but he would not consider sacking him.
"I am disappointed in the story that appeared this morning. It was a private event and it happened over a year ago," the Premier said.
"The people who were there are disputing that account of what happened.
"Can I say to the media: give the guy a chance. How much scrutiny does there need to be on one individual’s life in every respect? By all means judge them on what they say and do, but enough is enough."
The report in The Sunday Times says Mr Buswell was socialising at a party last December with a group of businessmen including Nicholas Kailis, managing director of Kailis Bros, one of Australia’s largest seafood companies.
Ms Carles describes in the newspaper how Mr Buswell allegedly "dry-humped" Mr Kailis while moaning in mock sexual pleasure, with the businessman retaliating to force Mr Buswell to get off him.
Mr Buswell was said to have had his glasses bent in the tussle.
Contacted for comment on Sunday, Mr Buswell’s spokesman said he denied Ms Carles’ version of events.
And the Premier said there should be a limit on what he called a “relentless” pursuit of Mr Buswell.
"Troy carries a heavy responsibility as treasurer and minister for transport. He works hard and I have great respect for the work he does," Mr Barnett said.
"Occasionally what happens in his private life detracts from that, and that is unfortunate from his point of view.
"But I believe the level of public and media scrutiny of Troy has now gone too far, and I would say to people back off a little bit and let him perform to his true capacity.”
The opposition said the premier should sack Mr Buswell.
“If today’s reports are anywhere near accurate, the premier has no choice but to sack Mr Buswell,” said Sue Ellery, Labor’s leader in the Legislative Council.
“The premier talks a lot about standards, but he seems to endorse the lowest of standards from his cabinet.
“A key question is did Premier Barnett know about this indiscretion prior to him promoting him back to treasurer?“