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rogue elephant

20 April, 2012

A multi-part exchange from 22 March 2012 to end the week – there was a recurring motif within the debate, as you can see:

Mr M. McGOWAN: [..] However, we have learnt some other things from the Minister for Environment; Water. This morning he came into the house and made a brief ministerial statement of 11 paragraphs about Tricia the elephant! I am fond of Tricia; I was Minister for the Environment and I am fond of her as well, but the current Minister for Water made a long statement about her. I will quote from the text of his brief ministerial statement. He stated —
On 24 January, Tricia turned 55. For an Asian elephant, this is considered her “twilight years”.

Point of Order

Mr R.F. JOHNSON: I refer to relevance, but I also refer most earnestly to the motion before the house which is quite clear and succinct about the savings and business case that there may or may not be, in relation to a particular contract that may or may not take place. Tricia the elephant has nothing to do with this debate whatsoever, and I ask you, Mr Acting Speaker, to direct the Leader of the Opposition to come back to the motion before the house.

Mrs M.H. ROBERTS: The Leader of the Opposition is speaking directly to the motion; he is making an analogy. Maybe the Leader of the House does not know what an analogy is, but it is about the level of importance that the Minister for Water gives to respective issues and what he chooses to inform the community about. It goes directly to the issue of the community not being informed of the decision that is the subject of this motion.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr A.P. O’Gorman): Members, when there is a point of order being heard, it is supposed to be heard in silence. When both members were speaking, they were not being heard in silence. They need to be heard in silence so I can hear them properly and make a decision.
It was quite clear to me that the Leader of the Opposition said as he led into his comments that he would make an analogy. I am going to listen to him very closely, and hopefully he will make that analogy and get back to this motion. If he does not, I will ask him to come straight back to the motion.

Debate Resumed

Mr M. McGOWAN: Mr Acting Speaker, I thank you for your ruling. I am making an analogy about what this minister regards as appropriate to inform the public about. I am saying that the minister should have informed the public about the privatisation of all those services in an essential government trading enterprise. Instead, he informs the public about the fifty-fifth birthday of Tricia the elephant! I am merely drawing the analogy about what he sees fit to inform the public about versus what he perhaps should inform the public about. I will go on with what he had to say this morning. He stated —
Despite her advancing years, Tricia is doing extremely well and her health is good, …

Trisha herself enjoys an hour-long walk through the Perth Zoo grounds every day and when you visit you can often see Tricia walking the Zoo grounds with the Zoo keepers.

I wish her many more birthdays.
It is an important issue—Tricia the elephant. I also am fond of her, but as the member for Cockburn said, the elephant in the room is this issue: what has the minister done to let the public of Western Australia know about these matters, and what he has done to justify this privatisation?


The member for Cockburn had every right to raise this issue in the way that he has. It is a significant issue of public administration in Western Australia. This minister has proven himself before to be hapless. He might be good at making statements about Tricia the elephant, but when it comes to serious matters of public administration he is a failure.

MR W.R. MARMION (Nedlands — Minister for Water) [11.04 am]: I thank members for this motion, which I totally disagree with. The motion states —
That this house condemns the secret moves …
There are no secret moves. This is a total beat-up of this issue.


Mr W.R. MARMION: […] There is a preferred proponent. If the preferred proponent falls over, there is another in reserve. The preferred proponent is going through the procurement process at the moment. If the preferred proponent is successful, the alliance contract will not start until July this year. It is early days. I will explain the background. The production and treatment integrated alliance will replace the existing Perth region bulk water maintenance alliance, which has been in place for some 15 years.

Mr C.J. Barnett: No wonder they talked about Tricia the elephant; there is nothing else to talk about!

Mr W.R. MARMION: Yes. The main difference is that the new alliance will include Water Corporation staff.

Mr C.J. Barnett: Does Tricia get a job?

Mr W.R. MARMION: Hopefully.


MR C.J. BARNETT (Cottesloe — Premier) [11.32 am]: I simply want to reiterate what has been said, say what a weak motion this is and comment on how weakly it was presented.
The opposition has completely fluffed this. It did not do any work on it. That came to light when the Leader of the Opposition, in a hapless effort, had to resort to Tricia the elephant. That was the best he could do. He got his facts wrong, his argument was weak and he claimed it was a case of privatisation.

Mr M. McGowan: What about Homeswest?

Mr C.J. BARNETT: It is not about Homeswest; it is about water. The Leader of the Opposition spoke about Tricia the elephant and Homeswest but he and his members had nothing to say on water because they did not know what they were talking about.

What a humiliating embarrassment for the Leader of the Opposition—the policy-a-day man; the bright ideas man. He got this one badly wrong. He should sit down, do some work, develop some policy, look at the Labor Party’s record and get his facts right instead of coming out with a bright idea every day. What does he do? Does he go home at night and say, “What will I do tomorrow? What’s my bright idea?” He has a kitchen cabinet. Do members know who is in the kitchen cabinet? I have heard that there is a kitchen cabinet. The Leader of the Opposition is a member of it.

Mr M. McGowan: Certainly not Tricia; she’s not in there.

Mr C.J. BARNETT: Tricia should be in there. She would contribute. If nothing else, she could sit on top of the Leader of the Opposition! I have heard about the kitchen cabinet. I am not sure whether Hon Alannah MacTiernan is a member of it. Opposition members would be the last people to know.

Several members interjected.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms A.R. Mitchell): Member for Mandurah, I call you for the first time.

Mr P. Papalia: Any Queensland recruits?

The ACTING SPEAKER: Member for Warnbro —

Mr D.A. Templeman interjected.

The ACTING SPEAKER: Member for Mandurah, I have called you for the first time. I will call you for the second time. I will go back to the member for Warnbro, who I was in the process of calling for the first time and the second time. Members, there is little time left. I would suggest that you listen in quiet. Premier, I ask you to return to the topic of conversation.

Mr C.J. BARNETT: I do not know whether Tricia is in the kitchen cabinet. I may be wrong, so I ask members to please correct me.

Point of Order

Mr T.G. STEPHENS: Madam Acting Speaker, you gave a direction to the Premier to return to the topic and he is disobeying your instruction. He is holding the Chair in contempt, and you should find that way.

Mr R.F. JOHNSON: The Leader of the Opposition brought Tricia into this debate. It is only fair and democratic that the Premier has the right to reflect on Tricia.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Ms A.R. Mitchell): Premier, I ask you to return to the topic of the motion.

Debate Resumed

Mr C.J. BARNETT: Certainly, Madam Acting Speaker. I was only reflecting on the role that Tricia may or may not play because she was fairly central to this debate.

Subject: Water and Sewerage Services – Transfield-Degrémont-Suez Contract [Legislative Assembly – Motion]

Date: 22 March 2012

Hansard reference: pp. 1179-1182, 1185, 1186 [online (pdf)]

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