In 2016, then Opposition leader Mark McGowan was ripping into the Barnett government for refusing to reveal the cost of bringing the Australian soccer team to Perth.

To make a point he delivered a five-word statement.

“Transparency and accountability mean something,” he bellowed across the chamber of Parliament.

But during a press conference as Premier yesterday, transparency and accountability were replaced by a new word — discretionary.

Appalled by the attention his Labor MP Pierre Yang is receiving because he failed to disclose membership of two Chinese organisations active in Perth, McGowan played the loophole card to protect his colleague.

“It’s a discretion as to whether you declare them,” he said.

When on the front foot it is all about transparency and accountability for the Premier. When on the back foot discretion, in this instance, is good enough.

Under the laws of Parliament, MPs must file an annual return under the Members of Parliament (Financial Interests) Act 1992.

There is a section that covers positions in trade unions, professional or business associations and states that MPs “shall disclose” these memberships or associations.

The Act says MPs can use their discretion in completing some parts of the annual return.

But it should not be lost on the Premier that the Act was created in the same year as the scandalous WA Inc royal commission, and for good reason.

McGowan even tried to justify the failure to disclose by saying only a small number of MPs bother to publicly declare where they may have allegiances and ties in the community to avoid allegations of real or potential conflict of interests.

He should tell Labor MP Alanna Clohesy that, because she diligently drew up a list of 23 associations and groups of which she is a member and disclosed it to Parliament.

None of those listed has drawn up agreements with highly political Chinese Communist Party pressure organisations.

While leaving the two questionable Chinese groups off his disclosure list through an “oversight”, Yang did see fit to declare his membership of two of the more warm and fuzzy Chinese associations in Perth.

He admitted on ABC radio yesterday that he acted naively, but the Opposition is rightly asking how Yang could be so ignorant to the political sensitivities a Chinese-born Australian MP might encounter.

The Premier has been to China and knows why security briefings around such trips recommend leaving your mobile phone and other devices in Australia.