View Comments
Barnett rejects call for caretaker
The West Australian

The Premier has rejected calls by the State Opposition to enact caretaker provisions early amidst allegations of tax-payer funded electioneering.

Shadow treasurer Ben Wyatt told the ABC the Liberal Party has made a number of obvious election promises in recent weeks, including a pledge to foot the bill for carers on public transport yesterday.

Continuing to make election promises before the caretaker period is implemented is an abuse of power, he said.

"We now know that Colin Barnett is no longer governing, he's campaigning," Mr Wyatt said.

"It's time for him to stop abusing the use of public servants to cost Liberal Party promises, and put the government into caretaker mode, so that both the Labor and the Liberal party can compete on an equal footing."

In 2011 a law was passed setting fixed election dates in Western Australia to prevent governments choosing a polling day for their own advantage.

The caretaker period used to begin as soon as an incumbent government called an election and the Governor issued an election writ. The cabinet traditionally makes no major decisions and effectively ceases to govern during this period.

Before the writ is issued, the government is able to use public servants for planning and communications strategies.

"What we have now is Colin Barnett making a combination of allegedly government commitments and Liberal party election promises," Mr Wyatt said.

Mr Wyatt said the government had issued 127 media statements so far this January compared with 56 in the same month last year.

But Premier Colin Barnett told The West Australian the caretaker provision is a convention and not required by law and he would wait till writs were issued before enacting caretaker provisions.

"The Premier and Cabinet will continue to get on with the job of governing and when the writs are issued on the 6th of February, the Premier will enact conventions relating to Caretaker," Mr Barnett said.