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Tight-lipped WA ministers 'unreasonable'

AAP logoAAP 11/08/2016

The West Australian auditor general has criticised three ministers who withheld information from parliament citing cabinet confidentiality.

Education Minister Peter Collier refused to table a copy of his department's strategic asset plan (SAP) in October 2015.

Two months later, then-minister Kim Hames declined to do the same for the Department of Health while Police Minister Liza Harvey rejected a request to provide parliament with information about the dollar value of the maintenance backlog for police facilities.

Auditor General Colin Murphy said in a report on Thursday those decisions were inappropriate and not reasonable because some of the requested information were publicly available statistics and not prepared solely for the purpose of cabinet deliberations.

"While it is important that cabinet information is kept in confidence, the principles of public interest, governmental transparency and parliamentary access to information are also vital," Mr Murphy said.

Opposition treasury spokesman Ben Wyatt said the ministers had failed in their attempt to use a blanket excuse to keep information secret.

"There's a strong public interest in making sure this information is publicly available to assist with future planning and to address pressures on government agencies, such as WA Police," Mr Wyatt said.

He also accused the Barnett government of trying to hide behind "commercial-in-confidence".

"The lack of accountability is just staggering."

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