Community Services Minister Simone McGurk knew about
police complaint three weeks before whistleblower raid
Community Services Minister Simone McGurk was aware that her department had made a police complaint about leaks more than three weeks before 11 officers stormed the home of an Aboriginal public servant over the case.
Ms McGurk and Premier Mark McGowan sought to distance themselves from the raid on the Communities’ employee, saying it was a police matter and they were only made aware of the warrant after it was issued.
However, The West can reveal Communities told Ms McGurk about the police complaint on January 25 — more than three weeks before police raided the home of the employee in front of her husband and young child.
“On 25 January, the minister was advised by Communities it had identified potential misconduct and the matter had rightly been referred to the WA Police Force,”
Communities director-general Mike Rowe told The West on Monday.
The West on Saturday revealed the raid by 11 police officers — including some who were armed — attempting to find out how the newspaper obtained internal documents that formed the basis of a series of stories on dysfunction and racism in the department.
Ms McGurk on Sunday refused to say exactly when she was informed of the police
“As a criminal investigation is under way, it would be inappropriate to comment on the
specifics,” her spokesperson said.
“However, it is normal practice for a minister to be updated following actions taken
regarding serious allegations relating to departmental staff,” they said.
“As previously outlined, Minister McGurk would not involve herself in operational matters
regarding departmental staff.”
The date Communities informed Ms McGurk of the police complaint — January 25 — was two days after The West Australian published a story on the department’s internal “critical priorities” report which showed the department was failing to meet crucial targets including those relating to child safety investigations.
Despite saying the raid was a police matter that was out of his control, Mr McGowan on
Monday defended Communities’ police complaint saying he saw nothing wrong with it.
He claimed the investigation relates to thousands of documents and some of these
documents included confidential information about children in care and foster care.
His office said the Premier was not referring to the “critical priorities” report in his
comments, but would not clarify which documents he was referring to.
Mr Rowe said he addressed department staff on Monday about integrity issues.