PREMIER Colin Barnett has accepted the resignation of his Treasurer, Troy Buswell, after he yesterday admitted to misusing taxpayer funds in his affair with Greens MP Adele Carles.
The government yesterday denied reports that Mr Buswell had been sacked from his ministerial portfolios and Mr Buswell yesterday refused to resign over the four-month affair.
However, a public uproar following revelations that the Treasurer had used government cars and hotel expenses to set up secret liaisons with Ms Carles forced Mr Buswell to reconsider his future.
"While I consider the relationship between Troy and Ms Carles a personal matter, Troy's actions in relation to the use of his Government entitlements in this matter is unacceptable," Mr Barnett said.
"As a result, this morning I informed the Treasurer that I believed his position as Treasurer and Minister was now untenable. Troy offered me his resignation, which I accepted. This was the appropriate course of action.
"I have instructed the Public Sector Commissioner, Mr Mal Wauchope, to review the use of entitlements by Mr Buswell and Ms Carles and ensure any misuse is corrected."
Mr Barnett said he would be taking on the Treasury portfolio in the short term.
"I will deliver this year's budget on May 20 and will continue in that role for some time," he said.
Mr Barnett outlined Mr Buswell's fate at a press conference, two days after news broke of Mr Buswell's affair with Ms Carles.
Nedlands MLA Bill Marmion has been promoted to the Cabinet to take on Mr Buswell's portfolios of Commerce, Science and Innovation, and Housing and Works.
"I would like to acknowledge the work and achievements of Troy Buswell as Treasurer and as a Minister. Troy has made an important contribution to this Government and I thank him for that," Mr Barnett said.
Taxpayer funds abused in affair
Yesterday, Mr Buswell fronted a media pack to say he was "truly sorry" for the four-month affair, but he would not resign from his Cabinet post.
Mr Buswell broke his silence after Ms Carles revealed that the pair had recently broken off their relationship.
But questions have surfaced over Mr Buswell's relationship with Mr Barnett, after it appears he did not personally tell the Premier that he used ministerial privileges, and taxpayers' money, to arrange the secret liaisons.
Mr Buswell said he had used his ministerial car to be dropped off to meet Ms Carles on three occasions, and went to Albany in February a day ahead of a meeting in the South Coast town so the pair could meet up.
He said he would pay back the cost of those meetings, which he estimated could be between $200 and $300.
The pair also met up in Canberra after a ministerial council meeting. They then travelled to Sydney, where they stayed for two nights. Mr Buswell said he personally paid for that accommodation.
He said he did not want the affair to become public, because of the effect it might have on his wife, Margaret, who it is understood has already thrown Mr Buswell out of the family home.
However, he refused to answer when asked if he would have repaid the money had it remained private.
Labor leader Eric Ripper yesterday called on Mr Barnett to sack Mr Buswell over his "misuse of taxpayers' funds".
Mr Ripper, who had previously been reluctant to speak about the affair as he believed it was a private matter, said Mr Buswell's admissions changed everything.
He said Mr Barnett - who is yet to comment on the affair - should front the public and, as the minister responsible for overseeing MPs' allowances and entitlements, must launch a full investigation into Mr Buswell and Ms Carles.
But Ms Carles said yesterday she "at no time" misused any of her parliamentary entitlements.
She paid for the trip to Canberra and Sydney, and claimed for one night in Albany when she went there "to tour the Albany Wind Farm and to discuss renewable energy options for the electorate of Fremantle".
However, she did not lodge any claim for the Thursday night she spent with Mr Buswell.
Buswell pleads for forgiveness
Mr Buswell said he would be seeking professional help for his indiscretions and asked for forgiveness from his family, parliamentary colleagues and Ms Carles' family.
"I would like to offer my sincerest, most heartfelt apologies for all those who have been hurt by these events," he said.
"I would particularly like to apologise to my wife and boys. My lack of judgement in this matter has disappointed a great number of people who have stood behind me.
"Good, decent, hard-working people who have offered me their unflinching support feel let down."
Mr Buswell refused to confirm whether or not he had personally told Mr Barnett that he had spent taxpayers' money during the affair.
"My understanding is that the Premier's office is fully aware of those matters," he said.
But when pressed on why would he not tell Mr Barnett about the misuse of taxpayer funds, he said "the Premier has been away on his (Toodyay) farm".
The pair discussed the affair "a while back", and Mr Barnett had expressed "his extreme disappointment with me for my actions".
Mr Buswell acknowledged it was Mr Barnett's perogative to sack him, should he so wish, but he wanted to remain as Treasurer to deliver the May 20 state budget.
He would not be drawn into comparisons with more than 40 doctors and nurses sacked last month after fraudulent salary packaging claims, instead claiming some had kept their jobs.
"I acknowledge what I've done is wrong, I will be repaying the money."
Mr Buswell refused to say whether he was still living with his wife, or whether he believed he could save his marriage.
However, he said "I can give an unequivocal no" when asked if Ms Carles had voted with the government on various bills because of the affair.
Ms Carles had contacted him after releasing a statement on Saturday, and he in turn told her he would speak today.
Carles confesses to affair
Ms Carles, 41, who is married with three daughters, confessed to the "brief" affair in an interview published in a News Limited newspaper on Sunday.
Mr Buswell, 43, is also married, with two sons. He is reported to have moved out of the home he shared with Margaret last week and is believed to be living with Energy Minister Peter Collier.
Both Ms Carles and Mr Buswell laid low over the weekend after news of the affair broke.
Mr Buswell cancelled plans to attend the Anzac Day service in his home town of Busselton yesterday, and refused to comment when approached by media, while Ms Carles is believed to be in the Margaret River area.
"It is with deep regret that I acknowledge having an affair with the Treasurer, Troy Buswell," Ms Carles was quoted as saying.
"It lasted several months and it is over now.
"I could attempt to portray myself as the vulnerable one who was taken advantage of. However, this is simply not true.
"We made a mutual, albeit stupid, decision as two consenting adults.
"To my constituents in Fremantle, I apologise."
She told Greens MPs about the affair last week. It is understood they told her to make it public.