WRAP - No prison in Westbury
WRAP media release - 9 April 2021

WRAP calls on Minister Guy Barnett to explain "Tim Baker" site

Documents recently produced under Right to Information by the Department of Justice (DoJ) indicate that the nature reserve near Westbury was identified for the Northern Regional Prison (NRP) by a single person - Mr Tim Baker, the Secretary of the Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and the Environment (DPIPWE).

The nature reserve is under DPIPWE's management and appears to have been identified by Mr Baker via searches he conducted of the Department's database in early 2020. Tellingly, it has been referred to in the documentation released by DoJ as the "Tim Baker" site [see attachment 1].

As the head of DPIPWE, Mr Baker reports to two Ministers, one of whom is Guy Barnett.

Correspondence between Mr Baker and the Department of Premier and Cabinet in June 2020 link Mr Baker closely to the promotion of this site for the prison. He provided the Premier's office with notes on the site which the Premier subsequently read into Parliament [see attachment 2].

Mr Baker was also instrumental in seconding Mr Andrew Crane, a senior manager within DPIPWE, to DoJ to help DoJ deal with any obstacles in the form of threatened species which arose in the course of the project [see attachment 3].

"Tim Baker was clearly very instrumental in the Government deciding to proceed with this site. He used his position within DPIPWE to glean information on this site, and actively promoted and assisted DoJ in its efforts to make this site appear to be a viable selection.

It would be impossible to contemplate a process more bereft of probity.

As the chief bureaucrat in Minister Barnett's department, it would be completely implausible for Minister Barnett to be unaware of his Secretary's instrumental role, particularly given the importance of this issue in Mr Barnett's electorate," said Linda Poulton, WRAP Spokesperson.

WRAP now calls on Minister Barnett to publicly comment on his knowledge of Tim Baker's involvement in the selection of this site by the Gutwein Liberal Government.

In the meantime, WRAP proposes to refer this entire process to the Auditor-General.

Linda Poulton
Spokesperson, WRAP Inc


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