The West

Claims of espionage have surfaced in the State election campaign, with Treasurer Troy Buswell accused of planting a staff member to spy on a meeting between Labor MPs and treasury officials.

Opposition treasury spokesman Ben Wyatt said a member of Mr Buswell’s staff was present but not introduced to six Labor MPs when they were given a briefing on the State’s finances by treasury staff today.

And while Mr Buswell’s office hit back, saying it was within the rules and a convention to have a staff member in such a briefing, Mr Wyatt said it was evidence his party was being unfairly treated in the lead up to the March 9 poll.

“At no point during the briefing did Mr Buswell’s staff member identify himself as a member of Mr Buswell’s ministerial staff,” Mr Wyatt said.

“Already we have had Mr Buswell tell lies about alleged treasury costings of Metronet and now we have Mr Buswell partaking in scurrilous behaviour that directly impacts on the independence of the treasury.

“In light of Troy Buswell’s most recent behaviour there is absolutely no way WA Labor can have any confidence that it will be treated fairly and independently by the public service.”

Mr Buswell said the staff member in question was “a well-respected treasury public servant“, who was currently on placement at his office.

“As Labor did when they were in government, and operating under the same caretaker conventions, it is perfectly acceptable for a ministerial staff member to attend briefings to opposition parties,” Mr Buswell said.

“How attendees are identified in these briefings is up to the Under Treasurer, who was aware of the staff member’s presence at the meeting.”

The West Australian

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