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Minister Bill Johnston hits back at push to strip him of corrective services portfolio

McGowan Government Minister Bill Johnston has linked a union push to strip him of the corrective services portfolio to a crackdown on prison officers being paid for hours they did not work.

Mr Johnston was responding to claims from WA Prison Officers Union secretary Andy Smith that corrective services had been “on the backburner” since it was added to his responsibilities last year.

Asked about his commitment to the job, Mr Johnston said this was a “very difficult period of time for the prison officers union leadership” and cited an Auditor-General’s report that criticised the department’s “chaotic” administration.

“We are going through a process of reform and we’re looking forward to (the union) being part of that journey,” he said on Sunday.

“I was very surprised that the secretary of the union referred to the Auditor General’s report, because the Auditor General’s report set out the fact that there are a cohort of prison officers who’ve been taking annual leave but not submitting leave forms, which obviously is not appropriate.

“It’s not the behaviour that we would expect of public officers in this State.

“Unfortunately, the Auditor General’s report also showed that management wasn’t properly managing that and that’s one of the issues that I’ve taken up with the management of the department to make sure that we have the systems in place to respond to that.”

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