18/09/2008 - 15:49

Parliament due back in 4 weeks

18/09/2008 - 15:49

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Premier-elect Colin Barnett is aiming to have parliament sitting within the next month following the expected swearing-in of his new ministry next week.

Premier-elect Colin Barnett is aiming to have parliament sitting within the next month following the expected swearing-in of his new ministry next week.

The new ministry features 13 Liberal Party members, three Nationals and one Independent MP.

The swearing in of the new 17-member cabinet, including Mr Barnett as the 29th Premier of WA, will take place on Tuesday.

Mr Barnett is confident the new Government will be in office, physically speaking, within the coming weeks.

"As I have said repeatedly over the last few weeks, it seems to me to be self-evident that the electoral commission was not fully prepared for an election called six months early," Mr Barnett said.

"Had the election been later this year, or early next year, I don't think we would've seen the problems that occurred."

And he has pledged that the cabinet will be fully operational within a month.

"Looking at the history of previous elections, quite often there has been very long delays between elections and the return of Parliament," he said.

"I'm not intending for that to happen.

"Parliament will certainly be sitting before Christmas for the introduction of new legislation and the swearing in of new members."

With the new cabinet comes a new agreement between the Nationals and the Liberals, along the lines of what exists in the South Australian state government, which will even include occasional joint party meetings.

"Both Colin and myself signed an agreement between the National party and the Liberal party that allows us to maintain our independence as Ministers, but obviously within the context of working towards good government," said leader of the National party, and yet to formalised Minister for Regional Development, Brendon Grylls.

"Obviously we won't be vetoing cabinet decisions and we won't be running round criticising the cabinet.

"But we need to very clear that we understand that not at all times the Liberals and Nationals won't be able to agree and we didn't want to be in a situation where we would be required to obey cabinet solidarity and be championing something in regional Western Australia we couldn't agree with.

"We plan to play our part in good government. We don't plan on being a wrecker."

However, details remain up in the air regarding the appointment of the Speaker.

"Liz Constable was interested in being Speaker, but I persuaded her, encouraged her for the good of the State and for the good of incoming Government that she could play a more important role, a more effective role as a Minister and as a senior member of the Government," Mr Barnett said.

"And we discussed that at length and Liz agreed with that.

"The Speaker is not something that can be determined solely by a political party, it is a matter that is resolved in the parliament by a vote of all members.

"No one can give a guarantee of the Speaker.

"Grant Woodhams will be nominated as speaker, and I'm sure the National party will support Grant, and the Liberal party will support Grant's nomination as Speaker."

Although the appointment of Mr Woodhams as Speaker seems to rest with the leader of the Opposition

"I have rung Eric Ripper this morning and said that if that scenario works out, and that's up to the parliament, not me, then we would support a Labor nomination for the position of Deputy Speaker, as long as we found the person to be acceptable," said Mr Barnett.

Priorities for the newly elected Government are not set in stone, although Mr Barnett hopes legislation drafting will take place as soon as possible.

"I would be very disappointed if we haven't brought in corrections to truth-in-sentencing before Christmas. We intend to do that. We also intend to bring in legislation with respect to Royal Perth Hospital.

"We'll be re-drafting in the drugs area and we'll redrafting in the prostitution area. They are priority areas."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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