Beer Matt’s run-in with the police

Western Australian Liberal Party is a constant source of innocent
merriment for Crikey readers. Fresh from his taxpayer-funded trip to
Europe with his girlfriend and his gaffe about “the Pope’s partner,”
the new state WA Liberal leader Matt Birney is in the news again, this
time with a blue over a breathalyser.

Perth’s Sunday Timesreported
on the weekend that Birney was escorted to a police station last
Thursday after he blew more than 0.05 in a preliminary breath test.
Beer Matt had apparently had a few friendlies with his deputy Paul
Omodei (who has had his own recent run in with the plod) and some
journos from the West Australian at the trendy Subiaco Hotel.

story gets a little murky here. Some reports say he failed his
preliminary test and Birney says he wasn’t told the result. In the end
he was taken to nearby Kensington Police station and passed a breath
test. Beer Matt enjoys playing the likeable larrikin and after becoming
leader said he wouldn’t give up drinking at the notorious skimpy pubs
in his electorate of Kalgoorlie. Local Libs still shudder at his
response to his local paper 18 months ago when asked about leadership
murmurings he said, “No but anything is possible, I was drunk for four

What’s got some tongues wagging is the intervention of
Opposition Police Spokesperson, Rob Johnson. Rob managed to kick the
story along by claiming in Monday’s West Australian that
hand-held breathalysers are inaccurate. His intervention has ensured
the story runs for longer. Was it a clumsy attempt at muddying the
waters or something more sinister? Johnson’s intervention followed a WA
Liberal state council meeting where reports say he was a particularly
active participant.

For an all Australian bloke, Birney has been
a little touchy over the whole episode. Can he handle his grog? Perhaps
his daddy, Noel Crichton-Browne, should make sure he sticks to light

Nothing in the papers today, dear?

It’s not online, but if you get a chance to see a copy of the Brisbane Courier Mail,
have a look at the item on the press release from Liberal Senator Santo
Santoro defending salary raises for judges. The paper points out his
pressie, Richard Laidlaw, issued the same statement – word for word –
on 8 February.