Mark McGowan and more than half of his ministers have been caught speeding, incurring thousands of dollars in fines and hefty demerit points.
Some of the high-profile MPs who fell foul of the law are the Premier’s closest allies, including Attorney-General John Quigley, Police and Road Safety Minister Paul Papalia, and Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson.
Mr McGowan admitted to speeding twice in four months in 2021 — including during a double demerit period for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend last September.
Despite strong government public messaging about the dangers of speeding — especially during double demerit crackdowns — Mr McGowan exceeded the speed limit by between 10 and 19km/h, copping four demerit points and a $400 fine.
In April last year, Mr McGowan’s lead foot saw him handed another $100 fine for exceeding the speed limit by not more than 9kmh.
Mr McGowan’s speeding ends came as WA recorded its highest road toll in five years in 2021 — 166 people losing their lives. So far this year there have been 87 fatalities, including a horror period when young drivers and passengers died or were seriously injured.
In June this year, 17-year-old Dale Martin and his passenger Ryleigh Land, 17, were killed after the car rolled in wet and windy conditions near Wagerup.
In July, a horror crash in Wye, just south of Mt Gambier, killed a 38-year-old WA woman and injured a five-year-old girl, eight and six-year-old boys and a 36-year-old man .
The Premier yesterday unreservedly apologized for speeding.
“There’s no excuses,” Mr McGowan said. “It was clearly a lapse in concentration and I should have done better. I was on a family camping trip at the time.”
And it would appear that the threat of double demerit points did not deter other ministers from speeding.
Finance Minister Tony Buti was the worst lead foot of the group, burning a $400 hole in his pocket after being caught speeding by no more than 9kmh over the speed limit four times in two years.
But Environment Minister Reece Whitby put the most money back into public coffers after he was fined three times from June to November last year, costing him $600. Like Mr McGowan he ignored double demerit-point warnings, exceeding the speed limit by between 10 and 19kmh during the June Labor Day long weekend, which set him back $400.
He then copped another $100 fine for speeding four months later, and another $100 fine for speeding a month after that.
Mr McGowan and his ministers all get a taxpayer-funded car — and a driver, if they want one — meaning there is little reason to drive.
On the occasions Mr McGowan and his ministers were nabbed by the law, they were behind the wheel of their own cars.
The revelations come after The Sunday Times Mr McGowan and his ministers whether they had incurred any traffic infringements asked since January 1, 2020.
More than two-thirds of Cabinet — 10 out of 16 Labor Ministers — were caught speeding, some multiple times and during double demerit long weekends.
Lead-foot Labor ministers forked out $3,600 in speeding ends since the start of 2020.
Read more of what MPs had to say about their speeding ends in the full exclusive story at The West Australian
Danny Hodgson is considering what legal action he can take for compensation after he was left with catastrophic injuries when he was coward punched by a teenager who was on bail for other crimes.
Mr Hodgson made the revelation in an emotional interview with 7News’ Flashpoint, during which for the first time since the attack, he returned to the Perth Train Station pedestrian bridge where his life changed for ever on September 5 last year.
“If anything, I’m just really angry at the justice system,” he said.
“The justice system is to convict criminals, to protect citizens, and to keep order across the country.
“But again it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to say that a criminal that has 23 offenses shouldn’t stay on the streets.”
Before the attack, Mr Hodgson was a healthy, talented soccer player with ECU Joondalup. He was on his way home from end-of-year celebrations when he was punched to the back of the head.
The teenager was jailed for three years and eight months over his attack on Mr Hodgson and other strangers while on bail. He was facing 23 charges relating to 13 separate incidents in the seven months prior to the attack.
Asked if legal action for compensation was being considered, Ms Hodgson’s partner, Jess Pollock, said “definitely”.
“Someone needs to be held responsible for this and why should we go through this journey and suffer in other ways as well — not being able to pay our bills when we were both working,” she said.
“I don’t even know if what he did was legal to let him out after breaching bail on 23 charges, I don’t even know.
“But if it is legal, and he has followed the law, then the law seriously needs to change.”
Mr Hodgson spent 82 days in intensive care at Royal Perth Hospital before he underwent weeks of rehabilitation at Fiona Stanley Hospital. He was rushed back to hospital last month after suffering a 10-minute seizure at home.
Heartbreakingly, Mr Hodgson’s independence, as well as his dream of having children, has been ripped away.
“We were hoping to start a family pretty soon but now I can’t start a family because you can’t have Jess as having full responsibility for a kid,” he said.
“As a parent you’ve got to have two parents to look after you, to change your nappy, to feed the kid — it’s impossible to have a kid as one parent.
“It’s not impossible but it’s hard to have a good kid and do the right thing, and that’s been taken away from us.”
He added: “I honestly may as well be dead in my head, mate. There’s no point of being alive. I’m worthless, I’m hopeless, I’ve got no benefit of being on this earth anymore.”
Asked if he had a message for Attorney-General John Quigley, Mr Hodgson said: “He can be a hero and save people’s lives”.
“Please change the law so this doesn’t happen again,” I asked.
“You’ve got the power to change the law and you can save people’s lives.”
Mr Quigley did not respond to Flashpoint’s questions asking why the offender was allowed out on bail and what action he had taken to ensure that what happened to Mr Hodgson would not happen again in the future.
But he said he would meet with the family in coming weeks to discuss their concerns.
Under WA’s Criminal Injuries Compensation legislation, a victim of crime can be entitled to a one-off, maximum payment of $75,000.
Drivers are bracing for the looming end to the fuel excise cut next month as new figures show Bunbury is the nation’s most expensive regional center for petroleum, with the average household shelling out an eye-watering $122.70 each week.
According to the Australian Automobile Association’s latest Transport Affordability Index covering the June quarter, that’s $20 per week higher than the national regional average and amounts to $6,381 per year.
Bunbury took out the unenviable gong because research showed its residents tended to drive longer distances than people in other regional centers, the association said.
Perth motorists are far better off for fuel costs despite getting fleeced at the bowser, ranking the second cheapest capital city behind Adelaide, with the average household now forking out $95.71 per week or almost $4977 per year.
Hobart is the nation’s most expensive capital city with fuel costing residents $102.63 per week on average.
This is followed by Darwin ($99.84), Sydney ($99.13), Canberra ($98.92), Brisbane ($98.15) and Melbourne ($97.29).
Scarborough woman Taylor Donovan, 30, says a full tank of fuel for her Kia Sportage is costing her on average $130 a week.
Before recent fuel price surges, it cost her about $65 a week, and Mr Donovan says it’s now “ridiculous”.
“Are we not paying enough? Expensive fuel on top of car registration, insurance, licensing … it’s just full on,” she told The Sunday Times.
“It needs to be paid. It’s affecting me, everyone.
“I feel for the families.
“If I had kids, I’d become best friends with the mums and carpool to and from school and sports.”
Bunbury resident Claudia Stiglmayer, 23, said she is spending at least an average of $80 to $100 on fuel every week and is fed up with the “disruptive” changes to her budget.
“It gives you whiplash, honestly. Prices will be quite high then they’ll go low again,” she said.
“People get comfortable and complacent and then it will spike.
“It interferes with my budget and I can’t get into a solid routine financially…it’s very disruptive.”
Nationally, the average weekly fuel cost jumped to $100.39 – the first time it has passed $100 since the index’s inception in 2016.
“Despite the temporary excise cut, fuel prices are rising and continue to be a significant contributor to cost of living pressures across both regional and metropolitan Australia,” managing director Michael Bradley said.
The excise cut finishes at the end of next month.
The index also showed that total transport costs – covering everything from car loan repayments to servicing, tires and public transport – for the average Perth household was just over $380 per week or $19,782 annually.
That compares to the national capital city average of just over $412 per week or $21,435 annually.
Bunbury stood out again, with total transport costs of almost $363 per week or $18,868 annually compared to a regional average of nearly $343 per week or $17,835 annually.
Sydney is still Australia’s most expensive capital city for transport costs averaging $486.18 per week, followed by Melbourne at $461.01 per week and Brisbane at $454.52 per week.
RAC general manager of external relations Will Golsby noted the change in Perth’s fuel price cycle from weekly to fortnightly in October was making it harder for motorists to save money by filling up on the cheapest days.
Since late June, Coles Express has reverted to a weekly cycle, with Viva Energy, which sets the prices at the outlets, telling FuelWatch it was in response to a period of extreme price volatility and to provide more competitive options for drivers.
While BP and 7-Eleven then followed, it’s too early to call if this is a permanent shift, FuelWatch manager Ben Derecki says.
If unleaded petrol is too expensive, Ms Donovan now won’t fill up a full tank.
“I’ll wait for later in the week when it might be cheaper – I’ve never had to do that before.”
Perth’s public hospitals have been forced to declare more than 500 code yellows in the past year as capacity issues continue to plague the health system.
Worst impacted was Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, which went into code yellow 144 times in 2021-22 – an average of eleven every two and a half days.
That was followed by Perth Children’s Hospital (89 code yellows), Fiona Stanley Hospital (74) and Royal Perth Hospital (68).
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The city’s biggest maternity hospital, King Edward Memorial, declared 36 code yellows in the year to July.
A code yellow refers to an infrastructure or other internal emergency that is impacting service delivery – including a lack of available beds.
Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettam said the “shocking” figures – contained in answers to questions in Parliament – pointed to a health system that was “significantly under-resourced and lurching from crisis to crisis”.
The McGowan Government has rolled out 420 of the 530 additional hospital beds it promised last year as part of preparations for the arrival of COVID but Ms Mettam said it was clear the public system still did not have enough capacity.
“These 530 beds are in effect the same ones that were closed shortly after Labor first came to power in 2017 which points to a government that has been asleep at the wheel when it comes to supporting WA patients,” she said.
“Especially concerning are the number of code yellows the figures from PCH and King Eddie’s, hospitals that look after sick children and birthing mothers and are clearly under exceptional pressure.”
Figures previously provided by WA Health revealed the public health system was short more than 100 midwives and 350 junior doctors.
There were also more than 300 pregnant women placed on “maternity bypass” and forced to attend alternative hospitals on the day of their deliveries in the past year.
Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said public health systems around the country were under pressure as a result of “global workforce shortages, the pandemic and sick leave”.
“The (code yellow) alerts are a moment in time and hospitals can change status multiple times throughout the day. The status of hospitals changes as patients move through the system and demands ebb and flow,” Ms Sanderson said.
“There is no doubt our hospitals are busy, as is the case across the country, but they are coping well with the demands of the pandemic and we sincerely thank our healthcare workforce for their continued dedication.”
Australian Medical Association (WA) president Mark Duncan-Smith said code yellows are “nearly unheard of” when he was a junior doctor but had become increasingly frequent in recent years.
“It is a direct consequence of the McGowan Government running the medical system into the ground over the last five years with inadequate funding of health’s operational budget,” Dr Duncan-Smith said.
“Often politicians will say code yellows are a normal procedural event but that is wrong – they shouldn’t happen anywhere near as often as they do and indicate a system that has inadequate capacity.”
He added that the “true” number of code yellows was likely much higher because some hospitals felt “political pressure” not to make the declaration even when all beds were full.
There were 513 total code yellows across the metropolitan area in 2021-22, with every hospital besides Kalamunda declaring at least one.
COVID has forced thousands of frontline medical personnel into isolation since the start of the year, further exacerbating staffing shortages.
A lack of available beds has contributed to unprecedented levels of ambulance ramping, with paramedics made to wait nearly 7000 hours to transfer their patients to the care of hospitals in July.
There were already 2463 ambulance ramping hours in the first 11 days of August – placing the month on track to again come close to 7000 total hours.
Heading to WA Museum Boola Bardip on a gloomy Saturday afternoon to escape the rain has resulted in one Perth family scoring a unique prize.
Olivia Pizzale-Bryce, Jack Mcauliffe, and baby Pia had the shock of their lives when they went to the museum only to be greeted by the waiting media and Housing Minister John Carey as they became the one-millionth visitors.
The family has visited the museum five times and said they were heading there to see the Dinosaurs of Patagonia exhibition as it’s little Pia’s favorite.
“It’s really nice, we love coming here… it’s a place we can come for her, which is really nice,” mum Olivia said.
“We both support creative industries and museums and the gallery,” dad Jack added.
Opening its doors less than two years ago, Boola Bardip hit the major milestone two months ahead of where the government had predicted it would.
“I think we have a world-class museum, we should be mighty proud of it… There’s no doubt that this is a world-class museum that attracts people locally, and internationally…I think we can be deeply proud, ” Mr Carey said.
“And, I love the fact that it [the winner] is someone who has actually come back five times, and I think this is the beauty of the WA museum is that people love it so much, they keep coming back.”
The young family has been gifted a cocktail function for 20 of their nearest and dearest, including after-hours access, a VIP invitation to the launch of the Wonderland exhibition and the Season 2023 launch later this year, as well as a lifetime membership and a WA Museum prize pack valued at $500.
The achievements come as the museum has been keeping an eye on how its international visitor numbers following the border opening.
Despite the free admission set to end in October, the Minister said he believes the public will continue to go to the museum.
“We already did extend the free system due to COVID … So it was always the plan, that there would be fees introduced.”
The Minister added that children under the age of 16 will continue to get in for free.
In regards to if he supports a Perth Indigenous Cultural Centre, Mr Carey said he is open to the idea, but the facility would need to be steered by Aboriginal people.
The fast food workers’ union has hit McDonald’s with a $250 million-plus wage theft claim in the Federal Court over the alleged denial of paid rest breaks.
The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association is seeking compensation for more than 250,000 current and former workers across the country.
The union this month launched a new “mega” legal action involving 323 McDonald’s operators and the fast good giant itself, and spanning almost 1000 current and former McDonald’s sites.
The new claim is in conjunction with the SDA’s 15 existing Federal Court actions lodged against McDonald’s Australia and 14 franchisees — two of which are located in WA — since December 2020. The total compensation figure being sought is $250m plus penalties.
The SDA is alleging that not only were McDonald’s workers not informed of their rest break entitlements, they were also told breaks could be exchanged for a free soft drink or going to the toilet.
A McDonald’s Australia spokeswoman on Friday denied the company had ever engaged in “any practice amounting to wage theft” and said the current claims were “both surprising and disappointing”.
As one of the largest employers of young people in Australia, McDonald’s shouldn’t have to be dragged through the Federal Court for workers to receive their most basic entitlements
“McDonald’s restaurants have always complied with applicable instruments, provided rest breaks to employees and were consistent with historic working arrangements,” she said.
“Accordingly, McDonald’s Australia intends to fully defend the claim.”
It comes after The West Australian last year reported the SDA had filed a Federal Court action against Kanku Pty Ltd and franchisee Rodney Sinclair to obtain financial compensation for workers who allegedly did not get breaks they were legally entitled to at Rockingham and Secret Harbor restaurants.
SDA WA secretary Peter O’Keeffe at the time said a worker was allegedly given a break on just one occasion — because she was crying.
The other WA franchisee involved is Westmead Pty Ltd. which covers the Wanneroo, Banksia Grove and Warwick Entertainment Center restaurants.
Under the Fast Food Award, all McDonald’s workers are entitled to an uninterrupted 10-minute break when working four hours or more.
“Nearly 24,000 current and former McDonald’s workers across WA have allegedly been denied their breaks and are owed thousands in compensation by McDonald’s,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
“It’s clear this issue is systemic and widespread across the fast food chain.
“As one of the largest employers of young people in Australia, McDonald’s shouldn’t have to be dragged through the Federal Court for workers to receive their most basic entitlements.”
Mr O’Keefe said the court action was about sending a clear message that the “systematic exploitation of young workers in the West will not be tolerated”.
“We won’t stop calling out these exploitative behaviors until McDonald’s cleans up their act and compensates workers,” he added. “Anyone who has worked at McDonald’s in the past six years and didn’t receive their rest breaks is eligible to be part of our claims and we encourage them to contact the SDA immediately.”
The McGowan Government’s much-vaunted purchase of more than 110 million rapid antigen tests at a cost of almost $600 million is being probed by WA’s Auditor General Caroline Spencer.
The probe comes amid calls for some of the more than 62 million RATs still in the State stockpile to be donated overseas or sold to other States before they reach their expiration date.
Nationals MP Martin Aldridge said WA households had reached a RATs “saturation point”, with constituents refusing to take anymore because they were running out space to store the self-test kits.
He said the 110 million tests ordered over the summer by the departments of Finance and Health ahead of WA’s border opening was “excessive” and equaled to 40 RATs for every man, woman and child.
“The Government should rethink its strategy about what to do with its remaining supplies as they do have a limited life,” Mr Aldridge said.
“We do not know how individual tests will respond to future variants of concern. We will see in time whether they remain effective or whether we end up dumping them into landfill.
“There may well be other jurisdictions or neighboring countries that we could play a role in supporting their COVID-19 response using some of the significant stockpile that we have hoarded in WA, which we are unlikely to use.”
Ms Spencer confirmed her team was examining RATs procurement as part of its annual financial audit of State entities, a standard approach with high-value transactions.
Given the large amount of money spent, it was highly likely any notable findings would be publicly reported in detail in the Auditor General’s annual results report, she said.
A Government spokeswoman said it had distributed more than 48 million RATs since February and this week it was announced another 21.4 million would be given away.
She said the Federal Government had covered half of the cost and Mark McGowan had previously offered at the National Cabinet to provide some of WA’s stockpile to other States.
“Early testing and isolation remains an important step in protecting vulnerable people from COVID-19 and using a RAT after exposure has been shown to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 by 53 per cent,” she said.
“When the challenges of the Omicron outbreak became apparent last year, we acted quickly to ensure WA had an adequate supply of RATs amid global supply shortages, while other states and territories saw their PCR testing clinics overwhelmed by demand.”
Children transferred to an isolated unit at a maximum-security adult prison in Perth have made multiple suicide and self-harm attempts within weeks of the move.
A group of 17 boys, aged as young as 14 and mostly Indigenous, were shifted last month from Banksia Hill detention center to a new unit at nearby Casuarina prison.
Between their arrival on July 20 and August 8, there were three attempted suicides and 13 minor self-harm attempts at the facility known as Unit 18.
The figures were provided by Western Australia’s government in parliament on Thursday in response to a question from Greens upper house MP Brad Pettitt.
Government MP Matthew Swinbourn, representing the corrective services minister in the Legislative Council, confirmed four children had been involved in a self-harm attempt last week which resulted in one boy being hospitalized.
The boy returned from hospital the same day with no further medical intervention required and was provided with mental health support, he said.
Officials have said they were left with no choice but to transfer the boys to Unit 18 because they had been destroying property, escaping from their cells, assaulting staff and harming themselves.
They have promised the detainees will be kept away from adult prisoners in safe and secure units while repair works are completed at Banksia Hill.
The number of self-harm and attempted suicide incidents at Banksia Hill has spiked over the past three years.
Megan Krakouer, from the National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project, said there was an “ongoing crisis” in youth detention.
“The self-harms will continue this year, next year and the year after unless we radically reform the system,” she said on Friday.
Corrective Services Minister Bill Johnston this week said the remaining details at Banksia Hill were now in a “much better” environment.
“It was not functioning to have these young offenders causing violence at Banksia Hill, so that the other kids … were not getting the services they need because the facility was constantly going into lockdown,” he told reporters.
He said the boys at Unit 18 had access to education, cultural, medical and psychological services and secure recreation facilities.
They were being regularly assessed and would be returned to Banksia Hill once it was deemed safe for them to do so, he said.
An independent inspector this year found some boys at Banksia Hill were spending as little as one hour a day outside their cells, in violation of their human rights.
About 600 past and present details have signed up for a planned class action against the state government.
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