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Fourth WA minister falls to commission inquir -

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Fourth WA minister falls to commission inquiry

Reporter: Hamish Fitzsimmons

KERRY O'BRIEN: And now, to the latest political drama from the West, and the fall of yet another
State Government minister. This afternoon John Bowler became the fourth minister sacked or demoted
from the Carpenter government in the past year - the third connected to the Brian Burke scandal -
as the Corruption and Crime Commission juggernaut continues to pound the Government. On Sunday,
Environment Minister Tony McRae resigned over his links with former Labor minister turned lobbyist
Julian Grill, a business partner of Mr Burke's. Premier Alan Carpenter was forced to act today
after the CCC played tapes of Mr Bowler discussing sensitive Cabinet information that it secretly
recorded at the home of Mr Grill. By late afternoon, Mr Bowler was dismissed by his Premier.

JULIAN GRILL (TAPE): So how'd Cabinet go?

JOHN BOWLER (TAPE): Good, good, yes...deferred a couple of big decisions, yeah.

JULIAN GRILL (TAPE): Oh, it doesn't hurt.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Where will it end? Yet another bombshell from the Corruption and Crime
Commission has left yet another Carpenter Government minister staring into the abyss. No sooner had
Labor Minister John Bowler denied discussing sensitive Cabinet decisions with lobbyist Julian Grill
than the CCC played its trump card secret conversations it had recorded between Mr Grill and Mr
Bowler after bugging Mr Grill's home.

REPORTER: Have you anything to say?

JOHN BOWLER: Certainly not.

JULIAN GRILL: John Bowler had been caught on tape talking about a proposed railway line through an
Aboriginal heritage area in the Pilbara. Mr Grill and his business partner Brian Burke were
representing the mining company, Fortescue Metals, which was proposing the line. Cabinet initially
rejected the railway plan but here Mr Bowler reveals the Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Sheila
McHale, had opted to reverse the decision.

JOHN BOWLER (TAPE): Now, Woodstock Abydos, apparently Carps said he's happy in the way it's going,
that although they said, you know, the decision of the, of that committee, ACMC, Sheila, Sheila
understands that they have to say that and that she will now overturn it.

JULIAN GRILL (TAPE): All right, so if I can just take a note on this, er -

JOHN BOWLER (TAPE): So it's expected that, um, Sheila will overturn the ACMC decision.

JULIAN GRILL (TAPE): So Carpenter just told you that, um, Sheila should overturn the decision?

JOHN BOWLER (TAPE): I think Sheila says that she will...she will, she will.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Just minutes after the tape was played, an embattled Mr Bowler said he could
see no reason why he should resign.

JOHN BOWLER: No, I'm certainly not. I'll be back again tomorrow and I'll see you then.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: John Bowler maintains his conversations at Mr Grill's home were not about
formal Cabinet discussions and that his conscience is clear. But there's been speculation for some
days that a senior minister would be exposed leaking sensitive information to Brian Burke and
Julian Grill. In phone calls played at the Commission, Brian Burke boasted to a developer that John
Bowler was good for anything.

BRIAN BURKE (TAPE): He took Julian's seat in Parliament.

DAVID CECCELE, DEVELOPER (TAPE): I'm aware of that.

BRIAN BURKE (TAPE): And he was hand picked by Julian to take it.

DAVID CECCELE (TAPE): Yeah.

BRIAN BURKE (TAPE): So I don't know that, uh, I haven't spoken to John about this. Uh, I'm sure
Julian would've, but I haven't so I can't tell you what his view is, but I am confident because
he's such a level-headed and quite an intelligent boy, that he'll see this in exactly the right
balance.

JOHN BOWLER: Look, I don't change my friends. I regret how our friendship, my friendship may have
been used, but I don't change my friends.

JOHN BOWLER (CMC TRANSCRIPT): I do worry a bit that, you know, um, that could be seen as almost,
um, you know, industrial blackmail or, what, you know, I'll proceed and see how we go on that.

BRIAN BURKE (CMC TRANSCRIPT): Well, let me give you a bit of a political steer. You should present
it as being in the government's interests not to once again be taking the side of a big company
against a small company, and so what.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Today, appearing again as a witness before the CCC, Mr Bowler came close to
tears as he launched an extraordinary attack on CCC lawyer Stephen Hall, saying he felt intimidated
and threatened and that Mr Hall's tactics had gone against his sense of fair play and justice.

JOHN BOWLER: I don't think people realise this has been the worst month of my life. I think I'm an
honest man and every decision I've always made has been honest.

PETER VAN ONSELEN, POLITICS, EDITH COWAN UNIVERSITY: The CCC has an important role to play, and to
acquire phone taps or the bugging of people's homes they have to get appropriate authorisation
through judicial sources. We therefore know that there is at least circumstantial evidence that
allows them to do that. I see nothing wrong with it. It holds our politicians to account. It's just
unfortunate for those very politicians if they're doing the wrong thing.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Political analyst Peter van Onselen believes with his Cabinet in disarray
Premier Carpenter will be scraping the bottom of the barrel to find Labor MPs experienced enough to
fill key Cabinet positions left vacant by the scandal.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Alan Carpenter has lost a brace of ministers and may yet lose more through the
CCC hearings. The Liberal Opposition is travelling so poorly in this State that he doesn't have
electoral concerns, what he has got is public confidence concerns. He can allay those by launching
a full-scale reform of the party, not just trying to sack ministers one by one.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: And if Alan Carpenter isn't feeling enough pressure from the CCC, today State
Parliament turned up the heat.

COLIN BARNETT, FORMER WA OPPOSITION LEADER: I mean, how much longer do we have to go on? He has is
crooked as they come. That's what it is, Mr Speaker, as crooked as they come. He's as bad as Burke,
he's as bad as Grill.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Late today the inevitable became reality.

ALAN CARPENTER: Mr Speaker, a short while ago I met with the member for Murchison-Eyre and demanded
his resignation from the Cabinet and from the State parliamentary Labor Party. He has agreed to
provide both.

JOHN BOWLER: Yes, I've just advised the Premier that I've resigned from my position as a minister.
The Premier also asked me to resign from the Australian Labor Party, and I've agreed to do that.
I've got to say my first preference would be to stay on, however, I've agreed to do. I've been
duped and been used at times and, because of that, I've got to pay a price.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Hamish Fitzsimmons reporting from Perth.

(c) 2007 ABC