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Colin Barnett was yesterday accused of distorting the pre-election caretaker conventions to avoid scrutiny of publicly-funded rail projects.
The criticism from Notre Dame University political analyst Martin Drum came after the Premier backed his department's ruling that during the caretaker period, the $3.7 billion rail projects were Liberal Party promises and not Government decisions.
_The West Australian _has sought access under freedom of information laws to correspondence to, from and within the offices of Mr Barnett and Transport Minister Troy Buswell on the MAX light rail plan and airport link.
The Government has denied the requests on the basis that most were authored during the caretaker period of Government and therefore created for the Liberal Party, not the Government.
On ABC radio yesterday, Mr Barnett said despite the fact MAX had been announced by the Government last September, during the caretaker period, it was a party political project. "FOI relates to decisions of Government, these were decisions of a political party, putting up a platform for re-election," he said.
Mr Barnett said there was "no secrecy" about MAX and questioned why the newspaper had sought access to the documents. "There is nothing that I'm aware of that is of any interest to anyone," he said.
Asked if he could guarantee that public servants were not working on MAX during the election campaign, given it was a party political project during that period, Mr Barnett said: "Oh, they may well have been working on it. But they weren't working on party political material for the Liberal Party."
Dr Drum said caretaker conventions were designed to stop an incumbent government from signing major contracts or using the public service to gain an advantage, not shirk public scrutiny.
"If public resources are being harnessed to formulate Liberal Party policy during an election campaign, the public have a right to know," he said.
This article first appeared on au.news.yahoo.com
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