Embattled WA Liberal leader Matt Birney will have to wait until March
to find out his penalty for making secret changes to his parliamentary
financial interests statement after a six-member Parliamentary
Privileges Committee yesterday censured him for making those changes.
“The Committee finds that the Member for Kalgoorlie’s insertion of an
additional page in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests,
without reference to the Clerk or Deputy Clerk, was both unwise and
inappropriate, and constituted an unauthorised alteration of an
official record maintained by the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly,”
the Committee’s report said.
The Committee resolved his action amounted “to a contempt of the
Legislative Assembly” but it stopped short of handing down a penalty,
opting instead to let the Labor-dominated Legislative Assembly decide
on that when it reconvenes in March.
The report said Mr Birney had “inserted a pre-punched sheet of paper directly behind his return in the Register.”
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“This sheet had the following text typed on it,” the Committee’s report said.
“Additional Information – Gold City Corp holdings 04.
“The additional sheet of paper was undated, unsigned, and had no other
text or marking upon it other than the text detail above.”
Mr Birney told the Committee he had not transgressed any requirement:
“I had the honest belief that that was my annual return: it was written
in my handwriting containing my details, and it was appropriate for me
to update it as I saw fit,” he said.
Late yesterday Mr Birney said: “If the House accepts this report when
we reconvene in March I will apologise to the Parliament … I
acknowledge that by supplementing my return without following the
Clerk’s preferred procedure, I may have inadvertently affected the
make-up of the pecuniary interests file and for that I apologise.”
Last year Alinta got a $88 million stamp duty waiver from cabinet when buying the Pilbara to Perth gas pipeline.
Straight after Mr Kucera’s resignation, Labor Attorney-General Jim
McGinty launched an attack on Mr Birney’s failure to reveal he changed
his financial interests statement. He said Mr Birney’s action was
dishonest, secretive and deceptive.
Mr Birney responded by calling Mr McGinty a “disgraceful, highly partisan, grubby little Attorney-General.”