Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis has taken the unusual step of banning shadow emergency services minister Margaret Quirk from visiting fire stations because of complaints she was “rude and disrespectful” on a recent visit.
Ms Quirk dismissed the ban as a “political stunt” after Mr Francis wrote to her after her visit to East Perth fire station on March 4.
“I have always gone over and above to make any visit by any Member of Parliament possible and worthwhile,” Mr Francis wrote.
“Unfortunately, however, I have received a number of serious complaints about your conduct and behaviour towards firefighters and staff during this visit which was clearly unnecessary and offensive.”
Ms Quirk confirmed she had received the letter. “I’m not going to comment on it, I think it’s a stunt,” she said.
The West Australian has seen a report written by a district officer complaining to his superior that he believed Ms Quirk “had an agenda” to use the visit to identify problems at the station to use for political advantage.
The report said Ms Quirk was miffed by the presence during the visit of a “minder” – a policy officer from Mr Francis’ office.
Former emergency services minister Rob Johnson said when he was minister he regularly allowed visits by Opposition MPs, including Ms Quirk, and had never sent a staff member from his office because it was a waste of resources. “I took the view that we are not children who need to be escorted through the playground,” he said.
Mr Francis’ letter said he would not consider any further requests from Ms Quirk to visit Department of Fire and Emergency Services facilities until “an appropriate apology to all staff involved is provided”.
Gareth Parker State Political Editor | The West Australian | March 16, 2015, 1:01 am