Ex-minister dumps on Premier’s office

Liberal MLC Helen Morton let loose on Premier Colin Barnett this morning, claiming “that machine that surrounds the Premier is out of control,” during an appearance on morning radio.

The former Mental Health Minister called for “renewal” ahead of the next state election in March.

Speaking on ABC Radio, Ms Morton said Tony Simpson and Dean Nalder, both of whom resigned from the ministry on the weekend, had experienced problems with the Premier’s office.

But she wouldn’t commit to voting for Nalder at a leadership spill, which is expected to take place at tomorrow’s Liberal partyroom meeting.

“The man [Nalder] has had a bit of a job done on him by the Premier’s office, by that machine,” she said.

Ms Morton described a culture within the Premier’s office of undermining, threatening, bullying, intimidation and sidelining of ministers.

She said she did not believe Mr Barnett would openly condone such a culture, but must have been aware of it.

“We all have to take responsibility for the culture and behaviour of people who work in our office,” she said.

“Colin is required to do that in his Premier’s office, and at the end of the day the leader sets the culture.”

Ms Morton said she would detail her concerns about the Premier’s office at tomorrow’s meeting.

“A particular member of staff who I felt so strongly about was having such a demoralising, destructive and divisive impact across my staff that I banned that member of staff from having any further contact with me, my office or my staff,” she said.

Ms Morton was Minister for Mental Health in the Barnett Government for about five years until March, when she was dropped from the ministry.  She said she did not believe her confrontations with the Premier’s office cost her the job, but said it may have been a contributing factor.

She said her electorate wanted a Liberal Government, but with a new leader.

“What they’re saying is they’ll give us a third term if we renew the leadership,” she said.