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Prince threatens throne

The Court Government must tread warily.

It has served the State well, but developments until the election later this year or early next year will probably determine if it is returned.

There seems to be little between the major parties.

Opposition Leader Geoff Gallop has been in election mode for some months – releasing policies, or statements about policy, and generally attacking the government.

The introduction of the GST on July 1 was politically disappointing for the Opposition as reaction to the new tax system failed to generate it much mileage.

However, the linking of Minister for Police Kevin Prince to a finance broker dispute was a political godsend for Dr Gallop and Co.

Here was a senior minister, closely connected with the Premier Richard Court, having his name dragged across the front pages in a most scandalous fashion.

The collapse of the broking business of Mr Prince’s friend and business partner Leon Jamieson could result in losses of more than $1 million.

Up to 100 investors, mainly from Albany, could lose their money.

Police and the Ministry of Fair Trading are investigating the matter.

Mr Prince has admitted he did not know what had happened to $35,000 in a deceased estate that he controlled with Mr Jamieson.

He also failed to declare to Cabinet his business links with the finance broker.

Mr Prince said he may have recommended the Bunbury Diocese of the Anglican Church become involved with Mr Jamieson’s business. The church now has up to $200,000 at risk following the firm’s collapse.

The matter becomes even more complicated given in 1982 Mr Prince, then a practising lawyer, represented Mr Jamieson when he was convicted of stealing and fined $250.

At best, the situation is very messy – and, for the Government, politically damaging.

The Opposition, of course, has pounced.

It called for Mr Prince’s head. Called for the Premier to act. Mr Court didn’t take the bait. His only concession was to remove Mr Prince from ministerial involvement in the investigation of the broking scandal.

It is not the first time Mr Prince’s political career was involved controversy.

During 1993 he used government information about changes to workers’ compensation law to the advantage of his Albany legal firm.

Despite that, the next year he was promoted from the Backbench to Minister for Housing and Aboriginal Affairs. It is crucial for the Government that the Premier shows leadership on the matter.

It cannot afford to let Mr Prince to escape retribution if it is proven that he has misled Cabinet and was involved in illegal activities.

The Liberals have had a marked impact during their time in power. They inherited a broken state.

Infrastructure has been improved dramatically. Things are happening.

However, voters have a very low tolerance of politicians linked to wrongdoing.

The Liberals won government largely on a platform of promising an end to corruption, secrecy and a lack of transparency.

They cannot afford to fall on their own sword now.

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