Axed police minister Rob Johnson has again defied Colin Barnett and the Government, this time by contradicting a key promise that community services would not be compromised by budget cuts.

In a parliamentary committee hearing taking evidence from Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan this morning, Mr Johnson repeatedly aired concerns that the police budget could not absorb $28 million in savings without affecting the front line.

At one point the police minister of four years, who was dumped from cabinet in June, pushed Mr O’Callaghan to give a “cast-iron guarantee” that services would not be cut.

Mr O’Callaghan would only give the guarantee for the current financial year.

But he insisted the front line was safe “for the foreseeable future”, a claim Mr Johnson did not appear to believe.

“I would be very interested to know where on earth you are going to find $28 million of savings that are not going to affect the front line,” Mr Johnson said.

“Twenty-eight million dollars? You could never find that when I was police minister.”

The latest outburst comes after Mr Johnson torpedoed Mr Barnett’s proposed legislation to compel police and the Corruption and Crime Commission to run joint operations targeting organised crime.

In June after being dumped, he bitterly complained he had always been loyal to Mr Barnett as minister and claimed the Premier had “been a different person” lately.

Since his demotion Mr Johnson has been deputy chairman of the community development and justice committee, which is currently inquiring into WA services’ readiness for this summer’s bushfire season.

The West Australian

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