WA Premier hides behind ‘legal advice’ to avoid text questions from Stokes

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“So the evidence is released as part of a case, which is the text messages, and then you’re going to stand outside and talk about that evidence. It diminishes the role of the court,” he said.

“I have absolutely no doubt that the Prime Minister received this advice.”

Mr Hammond said once the decision was made and the appeal period expired, the Prime Minister would be free to comment.

The personal texts were sent between Mr Stokes, chairman of Seven West Media and owner of the state’s only major newspaper Western Australia, and Mr. McGowan on the day the legislation was introduced in Parliament and in the days that followed.

The former said: ‘Kerry, we have just introduced legislation to block a claim by Clive Palmer against the State of WA for $28 billion… The risk is too great… obviously he won’t be happy . I’ll call to discuss it.

Over the next three days, the first pages appeared on west depicting Mr. Palmer as Dr. Evil, a cockroach and a cane toad.

Three days after the initial message, Mr Stokes texted Mr McGowan.

“Marc, well done. I don’t think anyone else could have gotten this bill at the speed you did. Think the bug heads should make a Telethon sellout. The people is with you! Kerry.

Mr McGowan replied that the front pages were ‘wonderful’ and joked that he thought the paper was ‘a little soft’.

He later told Mr Stokes: ‘I really appreciate the support… all the mealy-mouthed tutorials from some people about Palmer’s ‘rights’ make me sick.’

During pre-trial argument, the Prime Minister’s lawyers attempted to claim that these text message exchanges were privileged legal communications.

Media pundits described the text exchange as a revealing insight into the relationship between politicians and media owners, and said they highlight the importance of diversity in media company ownership.

Last week, a state government spokesman said Mr McGowan and his government had always taken a “consultative approach emphasizing discussion and, more importantly, listening, to all sectors of the community, from business leaders to interest groups to mums and dads”.

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