Barnett ducks downgrade questions

Colin Barnett was yesterday cast as a fair-weather Premier, avail-able for good news stories but unwilling to accept financial res-ponsibility after he refused for a second successive day to address WA's latest credit downgrade.

His absence allowed the Opposition to fill the void, with shadow treasurer Ben Wyatt fronting a packed news conference to label the Premier cowardly and addicted to spending.

On Monday, Mr Barnett announced Kerry Sanderson as WA's Governor but referred questions on the ratings downgrade to Treasurer Mike Nahan, who has been in the job since March.

Yesterday, Mr Barnett addressed the Liberal Party's fundraising arm, the 500 Club, and agreed to _The West Australian's _request to be photographed with Malaysian Transport Minister Dato' Sri Liow Tiong Lai.

But he declined to answer questions on the decision by ratings agency Moody's to downgrade the State's credit rating from its highest AAA to the second highest Aa1. The Premier will be in regional WA today and is not expected to confront the AAA issue until later in the week.

Moody's warned there could be further cuts in the State's credit rating if there was no strengthening in the "Government's resolve" in managing the finances.

Mr Wyatt said it was a "scathing assessment of Mr Barnett's financial management skills".

The Malaysian delegation was in Perth to thank WA for its part in the search for Flight MH370.

The West Australian

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