This had created some angst inside ministerial offices, with concern the term-of-government contracts of those failing to pay up might not be renewed if the party wins office.
But a state government spokesman said the fundraising system was voluntary.
“WA Labor has established a voluntary recurrent donation system,” he said in a statement issued by Premier Mark McGowan’s office.
“How people in any work place choose to engage with political parties is a matter for them.”
The practice of using political staff paid from the public purse to raise campaign funds is commonplace in the eastern states and federally, but is unique in WA.
WA Labor has been left cash-strapped after revelations money raised by state MPs had been ploughed into Bill Shorten’s failed attempt to win the 2019 federal election along with about $500,000 combined on the Perth byelection and Darling Range byelections.
It is unknown how much the party expects to raise by targeting state political staffers, but depending on take-up of the scheme, it could be tens of thousands of dollars.
While WA Labor’s state secretary Tim Picton didn’t comment on the plan, Liberal state director Sam Calebrese said, “it would be highly inappropriate if the Labor Party is pressuring public servants to fund their election campaign”.
Each of the state’s 17 ministerial offices costs on average $3.3 million to operate and support.
Although staff working for ministers are not supposed to campaign during elections, the ministerial resources – including employees – at the government’s disposal weigh heavily in favour of the party in office.
It is common practice for state ministerial staffers to take leave to work on state or federal election campaigns, such as the 2019 federal election or the 2018 Darling Range byelection.
Under the former Barnett government, staffers were required to take leave without pay to campaign.
“Ministerial staff are obligated to act in accordance with the Public Sector Management Act when it comes to activity during any campaign period,” the state government spokesman said.
As of February, there were 22.4 full-time equivalent staff working in the Premier’s office according to records tabled in Parliament.
The next most populated ministerial office was Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, with 16 full-time staff.
Nathan is WAtoday’s political reporter and the winner of the 2019 Arthur Lovekin Prize for Excellence in Journalism.