8 January 2009

Rudd's bullying of WA

It appears Prime Minister Kevin Rudd believes Western Australia is less deserving because it is the only state in Australia with a Liberal government.

The treasurer for Western Australia was the only treasurer of any state or territory to be excluded from a pre-COAG strategy meeting held last year, which shows that Rudd's rhetoric on cooperative federalism falls far short of reality. During Senate Question Time on November 26, 2008, Senator Mathias Cormann said:

Senator CORMANN (Western Australia) (3:29 PM) —If there was any further proof required, today we got conclusive evidence that cooperative federalism is nothing more than a political slogan—there is no substance to it; there is no commitment to it—when you listened to the partisan political response by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and he essentially attacked the Treasurer of the state of Western Australia. I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate today whether there had been any discussions or any representations to the Commonwealth in preparation for the COAG meeting on Saturday as a result of the pre-COAG strategy meeting of Labor state and territory treasurers. The answer he gave me was, ‘Of course; I don’t really understand the question—that is what normally happens.’ And when I asked him, ‘What is the Commonwealth’s view? Does the Commonwealth believe that it was appropriate that the Treasurer of Western Australia was excluded just because he is a Liberal?’, what did the minister say? The minister said, ‘He probably wasn’t excluded because he was a Liberal,’ and in not so many words—I know we are going to get a ruling from the President—the minister essentially said that the Treasurer of Western Australia was excluded not because he is a Liberal but because he is a bad bloke. I happen to think Troy Buswell is a good bloke, but that is not why he should be invited to a pre-COAG strategy meeting. Troy Buswell is the duly elected member for Vasse in Western Australia. He is the duly appointed Treasurer of the state of Western Australia. If there was any substance to ‘the spirit of cooperative federalism’, if the Prime Minister was serious in his commitment to cooperative federalism, he would discipline and reprimand his minister in this chamber for the statements he has made today.

It has now come to light that while Rudd has increased the total number of AFP officers available, he has cut the number provided for WA and been more than generous to his home state of Queensland. Senator Cormann states:

Despite Western Australia having the fastest growing population, the Rudd Government is cutting federal resources to WA, even when increasing them elsewhere.

In early December, I generated a story in relation to the Rudd Government’s decision to cut in half the number of WA based Crime Analysts at the Australian Crime Commission. This was an outrageously ill-conceived measure that rightly attracted significant criticism from senior law enforcement circles across WA.

I have now received answers to some further questions I put on notice in the Senate in relation to Rudd Labor Government funding cuts to Australian Federal police resources in WA.

And don’t think that these cuts are part of a uniform trend across Australia. Federal Labor has cut the number of AFP officers in WA by nearly 10% (the biggest cut in any State), while they were increased by more than 30% in the Prime Minister’s home State of Queensland (the biggest increase of any State).

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