Western Australia’s police chief has rejected a parliamentary inquiry which found investigations into Troy Buswell’s late-night car crashes were inadequate.
The former state treasurer quit cabinet following revelations he had a mental breakdown after crashing into parked cars, a pole and the front gate of his Subiaco home while returning from a wedding in the early hours of February 23.
The opposition-instigated inquiry examined matters including how police investigated the incident.
Mr Buswell was fined $3100 and disqualified from driving for one year after he admitted to 11 traffic offences, but did not face drink-driving charges because he was not breathalysed on the night.
The traffic offence charges, including failing to stop after an accident, were laid only after the incident was exposed in the media.
“The committee has come to the conclusion that there was a systemic failure at a number of levels on the evening,” its report said on Thursday.
“There was an inadequate police response; Dignitary Protection were unaware of the then state Treasurer’s car registration or home address; police subsequently let any investigation lapse and left it to the media to join the dots.”
The committee said police did not make the connection between the report of erratic driving and the smashed cars in nearby streets.
Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan said he did not agree with the committee’s finding that there had been a systemic failure on the night of the incident.
“The police did what they did based on the information they had on the night,” Mr O’Callaghan said.
Traffic officers didn’t accept blame for not knowing the house they visited was Mr Buswell’s and that he was behind the wheel because it was up to the government’s dignitary protection unit to maintain and update adequate records on such matters.
And because officers initially did not know they were looking into the conduct of a minister, police could not be accused of treating the incident more leniently.
Mr O’Callaghan also noted dissent in the committee after deputy chairman, Liberal MP Ian Britza, said he tendered the “minority report” with great reluctance.
Premier Colin Barnett said it was time to let Mr Buswell get on with recovering from bipolar disorder and depression.
But Labor leader Mark McGowan said questions remained about revelations a security guard at the government building had reported seeing Mr Buswell in the basement emptying a bin full of bottles early on the morning in question.