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McGowan labels Barnett sad and bitter

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May 19, 2017

Former WA premier Colin Barnett says another WA Inc scandal is possible under the Labor government.

Colin Barnett walked in to the first day of parliament on Tuesday telling the media to "leave him alone" but two days later was enthusiastically claiming he was "not finished yet" and warning the corruption of WA Inc would return under the new Labor government.

Mr Barnett, who reminded parliament on Thursday that he was WA's second longest-serving post-war premier, was unceremoniously dumped from office on March 11.

The record loss for the Liberals gave Labor the largest majority in WA history.

He has said little since, other than promoting a proposed $5 billion transcontinental gas pipeline to the the east coast in a newspaper interview.

The former premier and his government's legacy were publicly criticised this week when an inquiry was launched into spending on major projects and the reasons for the record high debt and deficit woes.

It was suggested Mr Barnett will be asked to give evidence.

In his first speech as a backbencher, he said all the "preconditions" exist for another WA Inc scandal under the new Labor government.

The WA Inc scandal involved the loss of nearly $1 billion in public money in the 1980s connected to business deals between the Brian Burke Labor government and WA businessmen including Alan Bond and others.

On Thursday Mr Barnett recalled Treasurer Ben Wyatt who described him as a "despicable little man" during the election campaign.

"This particular despicable little man is not finished yet," he said.

"I am not predicting that history will be repeated, indeed I hope that history is not repeated, but from that perspective of over 40 years, the one thing that is very clear to me is that the preconditions for what happened in the 80s and the early part of this century exist today," he said.

"The preconditions, particularly from the 1980s of a particular government, a Labor government, a particular characteristic of the business community of the time, and a typical characteristic of the media of the time are today replicated in Perth and Western Australia."

He didn't elaborate further.

Mr Barnett had a bitter falling out with a group of prominent Perth business people last year agitating for him to step down and who leaked their own private polling against him.

At the time it prompted some locals to make comparisons with WA Inc and wealthy interests again interfering with democracy.

Mr Wyatt criticised Mr Barnett's speech as "bizarre, arrogant and out of touch" and said he seemed to believe there was a conspiracy against him.

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