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THE feud between Dean Nalder and Mike Nahan spilt into the open at this month’s Liberal “love-in” at Joondalup, with the Transport Minister accusing the Treasurer of undermining his plan for a Morley rail tunnel.
The Sunday Times can reveal details of the escalating war between the key figures in Premier Colin Barnett’s ministry which, as new Nationals leader Brendon Grylls highlighted this week, is divided on economic and transport policies.
In front of startled Liberal MPs, a furious Mr Nalder criticised Dr Nahan for not publicly supporting his tunnel plan.
Sources said Mr Nalder held up a Treasury document that recommended the Government not fund a study into the proposal. Mr Nalder claimed the document had been prepared for Dr Nahan to present to the Economic and Expenditure and Reform Committee, which would make a decision on the study. Dr Nahan is on the EERC, as is the Premier.
Mr Nalder told colleagues he only became aware of the document because it had been sent to the Public Transport Authority, which subsequently informed him.
Treasurer Mike Nahan. Picture: Marie NirmeMr Nalder also accused Dr Nahan of telling backbenchers the tunnel would cost up to $6 billion. Mr Nalder claimed the figure was more likely to be $2-$3 billion.
A source at the meeting said Mr Nalder told Dr Nahan: “Mike, I have no idea what your agenda is, but that is not helpful. Why are you trying to undermine me in this process?
“I don’t know what game you are trying to play but I have aligned myself with what the Premier has stated (on the Morley tunnel) to make sure we are consistent and I don’t think it’s helpful when you have people going out in the public forum saying something else.” Dr Nahan was said to have rejected the claims.
Sources said Mr Nalder was offended by comments Dr Nahan made a day before the love-in encouraging “the people who are unsettling the team to get on and focus on the real job of winning the next election”.
Mr Nalder believed the comments were levelled at him.
When The Sunday Times approached Mr Nalder about his comments at the love-in, he did not deny making them. “It is not appropriate to talk about what occurs in party room meetings,” he added. Dr Nahan was approached for comment.
This article first appeared on www.perthnow.com.au
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