Evers wins probe into election promise costing

By Chris Thomson | posted on November 29, 2018

A PROBE into forming an agency to independently cost promises at State election time will occur at the initiative of Albany’s only Upper House Parliamentarian Diane Evers.

In the Legislative Council recently, GreensWA Finance and Treasury spokesperson Ms Evers called for an inquiry into founding a WA parliamentary budget office.

“We can change the system,” she told her Legislative Council colleagues on November 7.

“[A political candidate] could come up with an idea for a new project … two or three days, three weeks or three months before the election, but without working out the cost ramifications of the project and what it will achieve.

“They put it out there and hope people will vote for them and then worry about the problems afterwards.”

Ms Evers said that was why Parliamentarians “go on about back-flipping and who has been the latest to back-flip”.

“A Parliamentary budget office gives not only the government but also the opposition and minor parties, and even potentially candidates, access to the facilities to work out the cost of promises,” she said.

A Federal Parliamentary Budget Office was formed in 2012, after New South Wales introduced one in 2010. Victoria and South Australia also have such an agency.

Caught on the hop when Ms Evers moved that an inquiry be formed, Labor Leader of the House Sue Ellery took her time confirming her party’s position.

“And–I–should–be– able–to–give–you–an– answer–any–minute– now–about–what–the– Government’s–position– will–be,” she annunciated slowly, peering around the House and fingering her mobile phone.

After an interjection provided a delay, Ms Ellery finally confirmed: “So–we–will support the amendment”.

Following suit, Liberal Peter Collier, the Nationals’ Jacqui Boydell, Liberal Democrat Aaron Stonehouse and One Nation MLC for South West Colin Tincknell said their parties would all support the probe.

“I commend Hon Diane Evers for putting for- ward the amendment,” Mr Tincknell said.

“This is exactly what One Nation has been looking for and what we have been talking about.”

Ms Evers’ motion was put, and passed easily.

The inquiry, by the Standing Committee on Estimates and Finan- cial Operations, will be chaired by Liberal Tjorn Sibma, with Labor’s Alanna Clohesy deputising. Ms Evers, Mr Tincknell and Mr Stonehouse are the other members of the committee, slated to report in 12 months’ time.

“If the recommendation comes back supporting the office, it’s very possible we’ll get it in place before the next election,” Ms Evers told The Weekender.