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OpEd - 15/06/2021

Jul 21, 2021

Senator Ben Small

Does Mark McGowan have too much spare time on his hands? From what I can tell, either he does, or he actually believes he was elected as Emperor back in March. The guy that decided he wouldn’t be happy with just the top job in State Politics, but instead opted to make himself Treasurer as well as Premier, now seems to spend all of his time undermining the Morrison Government’s strong stance on foreign policy and border security – at the same time as the number of state issues worthy of words like ‘crisis’ seemingly rise exponentially. Last I checked, he is the Premier of WA - but you can only appoint yourself to so many positions, and President of Australia isn’t one of them.

Most Australians understand and accept that there are issues on which we should speak with one voice, coming from our Federal Parliament. On others, we are rightly six states and two territories with eight different voices – indeed, our progress as a nation has depended on our competitive federalism.

Where it comes to our presence on the world stage, our geostrategic relationships and the policies that stopped a tide of human suffering, misery and death from people smugglers, there simply isn’t room for an arrogant Premier to lecture. Even more so when the Premier is using such profoundly important issues in the lowest game of political smoke and mirrors – distracting scrutiny from the torrent of issues within his own jurisdiction, to which our State deserves a better response.

Our children are not only dying in waiting rooms but are being cremated by the wrong set of grieving parents. Our maternity hospital is turning away expectant mothers and our metropolitan hospitals are creaking under stress without a single case of COVID-19 in the community, driving unprecedented levels of ambulance ramping. You would think our Premier might have his attention on our hospitals, rather than churlishly sniping at the Prime Minister whilst he is overseas negotiating a historic trade deal with the United Kingdom and strengthening our alliances against the threat of regional aggression.

Western Australians can’t get housing, let alone affordable housing, anywhere from Broome to Esperance. Indeed, Esperance is home to the lowest vacancy rate in the nation, but it certainly isn’t home to the workers that the agricultural sector so desperately needs. Evictions have sky-rocketed almost as fast as property prices, up 10 per cent since April, and yet Mr McGowan’s newly minted Housing Minister is “carefully considering” calls to deal with the crisis. Perhaps a little less focus from the Premier on where unlawful non-citizens live, and a little more focus on what Western Australians need to live. Western Australians overwhelmingly supported the Premier’s landslide win, so that faith needs to be repaid with delivery of what those voters desperately need.

If any area of Government can't be tainted by the faintest whiff of corruption or nepotism, it must be the Government agency tasked with policing corruption. Mr McGowan has taken it upon himself to circumvent impartiality and indeed any appearance of propriety in re-appointing John McKecknie to the CCC. Never mind that at least one Labor MP on the last Joint Standing Committee on the CCC voted against McKechnie as an appropriate appointment, the Premier will now use his super-majority to re-write the law in his favour. To hide from the scrutiny he should face for debasing our democratic processes, the Premier instead throws up cheap criticism of the PM for upholding, unapologetically, our national interest.

Those in glass houses, Premier. It’s in the interest of every Western Australian that you stay in your lane.