Western Australian small business minister Norm Marlborough has been sacked from cabinet after the state's corruption watchdog revealed explosive evidence of secret dealings he had with disgraced former premier Brian Burke.
Western Australian small business minister Norm Marlborough has been sacked from cabinet after explosive revelations from the state's corruption watchdog revealed evidence of secret dealings he had with disgraced former premier Brian Burke.
Mr Marlborough had been asked to resign as a result of today's revelations in the Crime and Corruption Commission, premier Alan Carpenter said tonight.
"Norm Marlborough has been in parliament for 20 years. I gave him the chance he had been waiting for on the basis that he would not let his relationship with Brian Burke compromise his role as minister," Mr Carpenter told a press conference.
"I clearly made a mistake in judgement... the people of WA will make their judgement about me. They can make their judgement based on what they see and hear, and how I lead government in the future. When the ballot box is there they can make their ultimate decision."
"I am very, very disappointed with this outcome. It is very unacceptable for this type of behaviour to be occurring," he said.
Mr Carpenter said the Small Business and South West portfolios would be redistributed among current Cabinet members. There would be no new appointments to Cabinet.
"Surely anyone, including any cabinet minister, after seeing what has transpired today would have the commonsense to know that they should not be dealing with Brian Burke or Julian Grill. Surely they can see that, and I will be having a discussion with my Cabinet colleagues when we meet together on Monday," he said.
Today at the hearings CCC investigators revealed phone records from a mobile phone Mr Marlborough had connected under his wife's name the day after he was sworn in as a minister in February this year.
The records show the phone was used almost exclusively to talk with Mr Burke.
The CCC was then played taped recordings in which the pair talked about using the phone in order to avoid Freedom of Information requests.
In other recordings, Mr Burke gave Mr Marlborough explicit instructions about how to respond to parliamentary questions in parliament and also urged him to make specific board appointments.
A former premier who was jailed for theft, Mr Burke has been the star witness in the CCC hearings into Busselton shire election campaign funding associated with the $330 million Canal Rocks development at Smiths Beach near Yalingup.
Mr Marlborough has been accused by the state opposition of being the former premier's mouthpiece in cabinet and it was a subject of much discussion when Mr Carpenter appointed him to the front bench soon after assuming the premiership.
Mr Marlborough, the minister for small business and the south-west, was called before the CCC to give evidence after it was revealed he had received a $5,000 donation from David McKenzie, the director of Canal Rocks.
The donation was given to Mr Marlborough, then a backbencher, in the lead-up to the 2005 state election but was not disclosed to the Australian Electoral Commission.
Below is the state opposition's press release on the matter, followed by a copy of Mr Carpenter's statement to media:
Western Australians can no longer trust the judgment of Premier Alan Carpenter.
Opposition Leader Paul Omodei said the Premier showed appalling judgment in promoting Norm Marlborough to the Cabinet earlier this year.
Now the Corruption and Crime Commission today revealed that the dark clouds of WA Inc still hovered above Western Australia, and were not a thing of the past as the Premier previously suggested.
Mr Omodei said Norm Marlborough had clearly been untruthful in his evidence and Alan Carpenter must sack him immediately.
"The Labor Party has once again brought Western Australian politics to its knees, with the stench of corruption," he said.
"Alan Carpenter welcomed the main players of WA Inc back on board the ship of State through the promotion of Norm Marlborough.
"Now, Alan Carpenter is sailing the ship into a new dark age for Western Australian politics.
"The public can have no confidence in Alan Carpenter's judgment and motivations for his decisions. He knew about the links between Norm Marlborough and Brian Burke.
"Once again a Labor Premier and a Labor Government have betrayed the trust of the Western Australian people.
"Alan Carpenter owes the people of Western Australia an apology for failing to keep corruption out of Government.
"Western Australia deserves a better standard of Government."
Mr Carpenter's announcement is pasted below
This afternoon I spoke to Norm Marlborough on the phone and asked for his resignation from the State Cabinet. He has agreed to provide it to me.
When I became Premier, I made the point that it was time for us to move on from the hangovers of the 1980s, and I gave everybody the chance to do just that.
The evidence to the Corruption and Crime Commission today has led me to the conclusion that Norm Marlborough has not honoured his unequivocal commitment to me, made when he became a Minister, that he would be able keep his responsibilities as a Minister separate from his personal relationship with Brian Burke.
I believe the evidence heard today makes it clear that this relationship has compromised Norm and makes his continuation as a Minister untenable.
Obviously, I find this outcome extremely disappointing.
We operate under a more transparent and accountable regime than any Government previously.
We have instituted more accountability measures than ever conceived of by our predecessors - the Corruption and Crime Commission for example, the most powerful investigative body of its kind in Australia.
It is, in effect, a standing royal commission.
As Premier, I want to assure people we put the public interest ahead of private and political interests.
It can be no other way.