25/02/2021 - 09:30

We're disappointed with our performance: Tourism WA

25/02/2021 - 09:30

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The state’s peak tourism agency has admitted it is disappointed with its performance after an inquiry found it provided the Tourism Minister with heavily redacted data on the Hotel Perth campaign.

We're disappointed with our performance: Tourism WA
The inquiry found that the agency had provided the reports to Mr Papalia without disclosing the degree to which information had been redacted. Photo: Attila Czar

The state’s peak tourism agency has admitted it is disappointed with its performance after an inquiry by the auditor general found it provided Tourism Minister Paul Papalia with reports on the Hotel Perth campaign that had redacted information unnecessarily.

The findings, tabled in parliament yesterday, formed part of an assessment of Mr Papalia’s decision not to provide parliament with five post-campaign reports on the state government initiative and data demonstrating how effective it had been.

Auditor General Caroline Spencer found the decision was not reasonable or appropriate, given some of the information was already publicly known, not commercially sensitive in nature and, in some cases, there was no obligation of confidence. 

On the advice of Tourism WA, the Minister tabled documents without being made aware of the extent to which information had been redacted, ultimately leading to a higher implied level transparency than would have been apparent.

Ms Spencer described the incident as “extremely concerning” and stressed that ministers were reliant on entities to provide robust advice when making decisions and presenting information to parliament.

“These issues are extremely concerning and reflect poorly on the work undertaken by Tourism WA on this occasion, which is usually of a higher standard in these matters,” she said.

She said entities like Tourism WA had an obligation to provide complete and accurate information in the name of transparency and understand the implications for withholding information.

Ms Spencer said the provision of information to parliament was fundamental to the principles of good governance, openness and accountability.

“The default position of a Minister should be one of disclosure, when it’s not contrary to the public interest,” she said.

A Tourism WA spokesperson told Business News the organisation acknowledged that the incident was a deviation from the agency’s conduct and would work to ensure it did not happen again.

“As the Office of Auditor General has acknowledged, this case is a deviation from Tourism Western Australia’s past high standard of dealing with these matters,” the spokesperson said.

Tourism WA is disappointed with its performance on this occasion and has taken steps to ensure it does not happen again.”

The office of Tourism Minister Paul Papalia has been contacted for comment.

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