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Barnett hits back at private investigator claims

The Premier Colin Barnett has used question time to turn the tables on the Opposition regarding the use of private investigators.

The Opposition Leader Mark McGowan went on the attack following revelations the Environment Department hired a private detective to find the source of a damaging leak prior to the state election.

He also alleged the Government had spent $3 million on private investigators in the last two years.

Mr Barnett told Parliament today the former Labor government hired contractors to look into 107 matters in the Education Department alone in 2007-07.

Mr McGowan was the Education Minister for part of that time.

The Premier says, under his government, the department has hired just one investigator in the past two years.

“It is fair to individuals under investigation, it is long standing practice and if it was used excessively, certainly not under this government but definitely under the Labor government,” he said.

Mr Barnett says there is nothing wrong with using outside investigators to examine allegations of misconduct, and he says Mr McGowan should not have claimed WA was turning into a police state.

“If [it’s a matter] of investigating the conduct or perhaps misconduct of a public servant, and if it’s not so serious as to go to the Corruption and Crime Commission, it’s handled by the Public Sector Commissioner,” he said.

“To ensure procedural fairness, that is usually someone drawn from outside.”

Mr McGowan says the figure dropped so dramatically because Labor created an in-house unit to handle investigations in 2007.

He maintains he has never heard of contractors being used to investigate political leaks until now.

Topics: political-parties, perth-6000