There are two matters which have the potential to do very considerable damage to the Labor government in Western Australia. Both go to the honesty of Premier Carpenter and his Deputy, Eric Ripper.

Carpenter has made much during the campaign of the former Liberal leader Troy Buswell’s adolescent stupidity in feigning the sniffing of the chair of a staffer.

Labor has gone so far as to put up a dirt web site authorised by Labor’s State Secretary which alleged to recount Buswell’s various misdemeanours. When the site attracted an enormous backlash in the community Carpenter claimed to know nothing of the site and had it disabled.

So as to squeeze the last drop of publicity out of the matter, in an act of typical Carpenter hypocrisy, while disowning authority for the site, Carpenter had his Minister for Women’s Affairs, Sue Ellery call a press conference to express her outrage that there should be sympathy in the community for a man who had sniffed a woman’s chair.

This sordid affair has been played out against the widespread allegation that Carpenter had in the past attended an alcohol fuelled Labor Party karaoke night in the South West city of Bunbury and during the evening had allegedly lifted the top of one his parliamentary colleagues, Jaye Radisich so as to expose her bra.

The issue is not now how distasteful it is that the Premier allegedly behaved in such an appalling fashion but rather his response to the allegations.

Mr Carpenter has on two occasions, including during last week’s televised Leaders’ debate, stated that “it did not happen”. This leaves no room for misunderstanding. While Carpenter categorically denies the affair, the alleged victim, Ms Radisich, has consistently refused to deny that the incident took place.

The allegations surrounding Carpenter’s behaviour were first aired on Perth radio station 6PR by talk back host, Bob Maumill. Maumill was also responsible for disclosing that Carpenter’s Energy Minister Francis Logan had as they say, put the hard word on one of his female staff members for a ménage a trios. Logan admitted to the incident. Carpenter publicly announced that Logan retained his confidence.

On airing the allegations against Carpenter on radio, Maumill said that Carpenter was not telling the truth when he denied lifting Radisich’s top and invited Carpenter to sue him.

Yesterday Maumill took a day away from his microphone and was seen in a booth of a Subiaco restaurant deep in conversation with Ms Jaye Radisich. Not to put a too fine point on matters, it is very clear that Maumill is receiving his information as they say in racing parlance, straight from the horse’ mouth.

Jaye Radisich was, when elected, the youngest female elected to the Western Australian parliament. Now she has been transformed by the Labor Party from victim to villain because she has refused to say “it did not happen”.

Radisich must be wondering why she has not received the support of Labor’s Sue Ellery who, while calling a press conference for the sole purpose of attacking Buswell for the offence he visited upon a female staffer with his chair sniffing, has been resolutely silent in the Radisich matter.

The second matter which has raised the question of what the government does know and what it does not know is whether the Western Australian State government and the office of the Deputy Premier in particular has been informed by INPEX, the giant gas development corporation that it is relocating its $15billion LNG, LPG and condensate project to Darwin.

The massive INPEX resource is located in the Browse Basin, approximately 450 kilometres north of Broome and 800 kilometres south west of Darwin.

The decision to remove the project to Darwin will be an enormous blow to the credibility of the Labor government. It is well known that INPEX is enormously frustrated with the failure of the State government to progress the development approvals.

INPEX wants to locate its LNG plant on Maret Island off the Kimberly coast as a discreet project while the government has nebulous grand plans for a multi user hub. The company has now abandoned its negotiations with the WA State government and is prepared to invest in a $700 million pipeline from the resource to Darwin.

Liberal Party Leader Colin Barnett insists that he has been informed by INPEX that the company has advised the Deputy Premier’s office of its intentions however the Deputy Premier denies the claim.

The truth may well not be known until after the election because of the company’s natural reluctance to become embroiled in the election campaign.

If it is revealed in due course that the Labor State government was informed prior to the election day that the project had been lost to Western Australia, given the enormity of the project and its financial implications for Western Australia, it will be an enormous failure of good faith and integrity on the part of the government and Deputy Premier Ripper in particular.

Peter Fray

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