Corruption may be widespread in Western Australia's public sector, which has been rocked by major scandals in recent years, a parliamentary report has found.
Corruption may be widespread in Western Australia's public sector, which has been rocked by major scandals in recent years, a parliamentary report has found.

Major corruption fears in WA public sector

A scathing parliamentary report has highlighted fears of widespread corruption in Western Australia's public sector after several major scandals in recent years.

The report calls for an immediate overhaul of public sector procurement activities, greater accountability of public spending, and a systemic review of corruption-related training.

The external oversight of procurement is "patchy at best and entirely absent at worst", corruption prevention mechanisms are inadequate, and overall, the public sector is not accountable enough when spending public money.

"While corruption is hard to measure due to its covert nature, the committee is concerned that corruption in procurement may be more common than first thought," the report says

Former Department of Communities executive Paul Whyte was accused last year, along with two others, of WA's biggest public sector theft.

Whyte has signalled he will plead guilty to almost 530 corruption charges over the alleged $22 million fraud.

It also emerged last year that former state trade commissioner to Japan Craig Peacock had committed a $500,000-plus rort, including "double dipping" his allowance and dining with friends at taxpayers' expense.

In 2018, three North Metropolitan Health Service bureaucrats were found to have taken gratuities, including overseas flights and accommodation, from 11 contractors for a decade in exchange for giving them ongoing work.

WA's public sector was "generally reactive, rather than proactive in its approach to corruption", with costly investigations failing to address underlying issues.

"It is time for agencies, and the public sector as a whole, to be on the front foot," the report says.

The report was tabled on Thursday by the joint standing committee on the Corruption and Crime Commission, which is embroiled in a bitter feud over the CCC's leadership.

The committee last month declined to unanimously endorse the reappointment of respected CCC chief John McKechnie, whose term has now expired.

Labor has accused Liberal MP Jim Chown of blocking the reappointment, which has left the state with a part-time corruption watchdog.

But the committee has refused to disclose its deliberations.

Premier Mark McGowan on Thursday described Mr McKechnie as the finest corruption investigator WA had ever seen and labelled the Liberals corrupt for blocking his reappointment, given he was investigating some of the party's upper house MPs.

"It cannot be allowed to stand," the premier told parliament.

"It's wrong - it sends a message that MPs are above the law."

Originally published as Major corruption fears in WA public sector



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