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Possible integrity issues with the State Government

Started by ozbob, July 18, 2019, 09:53:13 AM

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verbatim9

#80
Very likely the Premier would of known this outcome well in advance, but tracks would of been covered to ensure that the public never realises. Just an observation, as the Premier seemed quite confident about her decision and the issue this week.

ozbob

ABC News --> Jackie Trad stripped of Cross River Rail after Gabba investment property controversy

Quote
Key points:

The CCC said it found no information to support a reasonable suspicion of corrupt conduct

Jackie Trad will be replaced as the Minister overseeing the Cross River Rail project

The State Opposition says Ms Trad should be stripped of all Ministerial responsibility

The move comes after the state's corruption watchdog today revealed it would not launch an official investigation into Ms Trad's handling of an undeclared investment house in Woolloongabba.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is removing her deputy Jackie Trad from all dealings with Brisbane's Cross River Rail project in the wake of her investment house saga.

The Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) had been asked to assess whether it would investigate the purchase of the Woolloongabba home, which could grow in value because of the nearby rail project, which Ms Trad oversaw.

Ms Trad remains as Deputy Premier and Treasurer, but Ms Palaszczuk announced on Friday afternoon that Commonwealth Games Minister Kate Jones would be appointed as a permanent replacement to run Cross River Rail.

Ms Trad failed to formally disclose to State Parliament in the required timeframe that her family trust bought the home in March, just a week before the final route of the project was announced.

The State Opposition, and then Ms Trad herself, referred the matter to the CCC after details of the purchase were reported in July.

But Ms Trad came under fire days later when she revealed she phoned CCC chairman Alan MacSporran to discuss the matter.

Mr MacSporran excused himself from the probe amid questions about the propriety of Ms Trad's call, although he also downplayed it as "a courtesy call to let me know she was self-referring".

At one point, Ms Palaszczuk said she was unaware Ms Trad had bought the home, leading the Opposition to accuse Ms Trad of breaching the ministerial code of conduct by not revealing the investment to Cabinet.

In a statement today, the CCC said: "No evidence or information was identified that supported a reasonable suspicion of corrupt conduct [relating to the investment house]."

"Not all failures to properly declare and manage a conflict of interest will be the result of a corrupt or dishonest motive," the CCC said.

"However, as a general proposition, failing to declare and properly manage a conflict of interest creates a corruption risk.

"In addition to creating a corruption risk, failing to properly declare and manage a conflict of interest undermines perceptions of the integrity of processes and creates a lack of confidence in processes and the outcomes they lead to, and the very legitimacy of projects can be undermined.

"Properly dealing with conflicts of interest is integral to the effective and efficient functioning of the public sector."

CCC recommends new criminal offences

Despite the findings, the CCC recommended sweeping changes to the way conflicts are handled, including new criminal offences for occasions when a member of Cabinet does not declare a conflict, or when a member of Parliament fails to comply with the requirements of the Register of Members' Interests.

The CCC also found the current process for declaring actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest in matters before Cabinet is not consistent with best governance practice and should be improved.

Ms Palaszczuk said she would accept all recommendations put forward by the corruption watchdog.

"I believe it has also had an impact on my Government, and I want to reassure Queenslanders here today that everyone on my team will absolutely double their efforts," she said.

"The CCC has also made some other recommendations and today I tell Queenslanders I accept all of those recommendations."

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said Ms Trad should be stripped of her Ministerial role.

"The only job Jackie Trad deserves is to be a backbencher," Ms Frecklington said.

"Jackie Trad has broken those rules, it's up to the Premier to enforce those rules and Jackie Trad should be sacked."

" ... Ms Trad remains as Deputy Premier and Treasurer, but Ms Palaszczuk announced on Friday afternoon that Commonwealth Games Minister Kate Jones would be appointed as a permanent replacement to run Cross River Rail. ... "

::)
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Couriermail --> Annastacia Palaszczuk strips Jackie Trad of Cross River Rail role

QuotePremier Annastacia Palaszczuk has stripped Jackie Trad of responsibility for Cross River Rail and named a replacement for the job, while at the same time announcing the resignation of a senior staffer.

Annastacia Palaszczuk has stripped Jackie Trad of responsibility for Cross River Rail for breaching the ministerial and Cabinet handbooks.

The Premier has revealed Kate Jones will take over.

She has also revealed her chief of staff David Barbagallo has tendered his resignation.

He has been dogged by another integrity crisis over a taxpayer-funded handout awarded to a company he co-owns.

Ms Palaszczuk said his resignation was already pending before the crisis broke.

She said she would accept all the recommendations of the CCC.

Ms Palaszczuk described the saga as a long and damaging one.

"Yes I believe it has also had an impact on my government," she said.

"I have told the Deputy Premier and Treasurer that she will no longer have responsibility for Cross River Rail.

"Because she has breached the ministerial handbook she will not be having that responsibility.

"I want to reassure Queenslanders that everyone on my team will absolutely redouble their efforts.

"The CCC has also made some other recommendations and today I tell Queenslanders I accept all of those recommendations.

"I also want to advise today that my chief-of-staff has tendered his resignation. I want to thank David for the work that he has done in my office. He wanted to go last November and I asked him to remain.

"He advised me in June before any issues were raised that he intended to go by October.

"I also want to put on the public record that by no means he has done anything wrong."

The CCC is still assessing corrupt conduct allegations raised against Mr Barbagallo over the $267,500 Advance Queensland Business Development fund co-investment awarded to a company he co-owns.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

Mark Cridland, Ms Palaszczuk's current deputy director-general, has been appointed her new chief of staff.
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The Australian --> Jackie Trad escapes probe, says she's still fit to serve

QuoteQueensland's embattled Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has apologised for breaking cabinet and ministerial rules, but says she is still fit to serve in cabinet after a finding she did not act corruptly or dishonestly.

However, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will strip Ms Trad of her responsibility for the state's biggest infrastructure project after the corruption watchdog found she failed to declare an investment property. Ms Trad will still be acting Premier from Sunday when Palaszczuk goes overseas to Meet with the IOC about south-east Queensland's 2032 Olympics bid

"I have admitted that I have made a mistake, I've also publicly apologised for this and I wish to do so again," Ms Trad said.

"I want to apologise to the Premier, my colleagues, to my community, and to all Queenslanders. But most importantly, I also want to acknowledge this has also been a very difficult time for my family and I want to apologise to them as well."

"I'm glad the CCC has found no evidence of dishonesty or corruption, but that doesn't change the fact that I made a mistake."

Ms Trad said she "absolutely accepts" Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's decision to strip her of responsibility for the Cross River Rail and acknowledged that she had broken the ministerial and cabinet rules in two ways.

"The Premier has a right to expect the highest standards from all of her ministers, and on this occasion, I did not meet those standards," she said.

The CCC today found there was no evidence of corrupt conduct by Ms Trad, but recommended new criminal sanctions be created to punish failures by Cabinet ministers to publicly declare financial interests and privately disclose conflicts of interest at Cabinet meetings.

In response, Ms Palaszczuk said she would permanently remove the Cross River Rail project from Ms Trad's workload, handing the job to Tourism Minister Kate Jones.

And the Premier has said her chief of staff David Barbagallo - who is under assessment by the CCC for a separate matter - will resign.

"I have been just as frustrated as everyone else out there awaiting this decision, and yes, I believe this has had an impact on my government," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"The CCC has also made some other recommendations and today I tell Queenslanders I accept all of those recommendations."

Speaking in Townsville, Ms Palaszczuk said she accepted the CCC's findings that Ms Trad had not acted corruptly or dishonestly.

But she said Ms Trad would permanently lose responsibility for the Cross River Rail project, Queensland's largest.

"Cross River Rail is the largest infrastructure project in Queensland, because she has breached the ministerial handbook, she will not have that responsibility," Ms Palaszczuk said.

She said Tourism Industry Minister Kate Jones would take that responsibility.

Ms Palaszczuk also announced her chief of staff David Barbagallo had tendered his resignation. However, she insisted he had always intended to go in October.

"That by no means says he has done anything wrong," Ms Palaszczuk said.

She said Mr Barbagallo wanted to leave last November, and she asked him to stay. She said he advised her in June that he wanted to leave in October, before the allegations emerged that the government bought $267,500 in shares in a company he co-owns.

The Crime and Corruption Commission has been assessing complaints against Ms Trad about an undeclared investment property for seven weeks and today released its verdict.

"Based on the information obtained and assessed by the CCC, no evidence or information was identified that supported a reasonable suspicion of corrupt conduct as defined in section 15 of the Crime and Corruption Act 2001," a CCC statement said.

"The jurisdiction of the CCC to investigate suspected corrupt conduct by elected officials is limited to circumstances where the alleged conduct would, if proved, amount to a criminal offence. The CCC's assessment did not identify evidence or information suggesting a criminal offence had been committed."

"The CCC will therefore not commence a corruption investigation."

The decision means Ms Trad will not automatically step aside from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's cabinet and may not lose her roles of Deputy Premier, Treasurer, and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.

However, Ms Palaszczuk on Thursday promised to take "action" if Ms Trad was found to have breached ministerial and cabinet rules.

Ms Trad and Ms Palaszczuk are expected to respond today.

The CCC has been considering allegations that Ms Trad's husband — through their family trust — bought a $700,000 investment property in inner-Brisbane's Woolloongabba on March 27. The three-bedroom house stands to rise in value thanks to its proximity to the planned Boggo Road station of Ms Trad's signature infrastructure project, the $5.4bn Cross River Rail.

Ms Trad has denied any wrongdoing, but has previously apologised for failing to update her public pecuniary interest register to disclose the house until months later, when she was contacted by a journalist from The Courier-Mail.

It is alleged she breached ministerial and cabinet rules by failing to declare the purchase — and the potential conflict of interest — at a key Cabinet Budget Review Committee meeting on April 3.

A senior Queensland Labor source told The Australian that Ms Palaszczuk should have acted weeks ago to remove Ms Trad from cabinet and sack Ms Palaszczuk's chief of staff David Barbagallo, who is also under an integrity cloud.

"Objectively, it's irrelevant what the CCC decides," the source said. "The Premier should have acted ages ago. It's destroying her government."

"Trad should have gone to the backbench and Barbagallo should have been punted. This is not a Labor government I recognise."

Trad Timeline

March 27, 2019: Jackie Trad's husband Damien Van Brunschot buys a three-bedroom Woolloongabba house for $695,500, through their family trust VBT Investments Pty Ltd

April 1, 2019: Ms Trad meet with the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority (CRRDA)

April 2, 2019: Ms Trad and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk meet with the CRRDA

April 3, 2019: Ms Trad attends Cabinet Budget Review Committee meeting where the government makes a decision about the final station locations for the Cross River Rail and who will build it

April 4, 2019: Ms Trad and Ms Palaszczuk announce the CRR building contractors

April 24, 2019: Mr Van Brunschot signs the mortgage documents for the Woolloongabba property

April 26, 2019: Settlement date for Woolloongabba property

May 1, 2019: Sale lodged with state titles office

July 18, 2019: The Courier-Mail reports that Ms Trad failed to declare on her pecuniary interest register the Woolloongabba house purchase. Opposition leader Deb Frecklington refers Ms Trad to the Crime and Corruption Commission

July 21, 2019: Ms Trad phones CCC chair Alan MacSporran on his mobile on a Sunday, to advise him she will be referring herself to the CCC over the investment property

July 22, 2019: Ms Trad issues a press release to say she is referring herself to the CCC

July 23, 2019: Ms Trad reveals at budget estimates that she rang Mr MacSporran on a Sunday

July 26, 2019: Mr MacSporran tells budget estimates his integrity was not compromised by the phone call, but confirms he will stand aside from assessing complaints against Ms Trad because of the perception

August 5, 2019: Ms Trad and Ms Palaszczuk say Ms Trad will stand aside from cabinet if the CCC launches a full investigation

September 6, 2019: CCC releases results of assessment
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ozbob

Half baked projects, have long term consequences ...
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Couriermail --> Jackie Trad cleared by CCC, but conduct 'should be outlawed'

QuoteJackie Trad will be the state's acting premier after the corruption watchdog decided her failure to declare an investment property wasn't a crime — but should be.

JACKIE Trad will today take over as premier after being stripped of her Cross River Rail role and condemned by the state's corruption watchdog over conflict-of-interest failures it recommended should become a crime.

In an extraordinary statement, the Crime and Corruption Commission yesterday found the Treasurer's repeated failure to declare her purchase of a Woolloongabba investment property near the $7 billion rail project was not a crime, but recommended that a new criminal offence be introduced for ministerial conflicts which are not declared.

"In addition to creating a corruption risk, failing to properly declare and manage a conflict of interest undermines perceptions of the integrity of processes, and creates a lack of confidence in processes and the outcomes they lead to," the CCC said.

"And the very legitimacy of projects can be undermined."

The scandal was sparked after The Courier-Mail revealed on July 18 that Ms Trad had failed to declare a property she and her husband purchased near where the new Boggo Road Station will be built under Cross River Rail.

The CCC indicated Ms Trad breached the ministerial code of conduct several times by failing to disclose her interest to Parliament and at key Cabinet meetings about the route for Cross River Rail.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced Ms Trad would be stripped of her role on the project and responsibility handed to Tourism Minister Kate Jones while also revealing chief-of-staff David Barbagello had resigned after a separate integrity scandal related to a taxpayer-funded handout awarded to a company he co-owns.

"I have told the Deputy Premier and Treasurer that she will no longer have responsibility for Cross River Rail," she said.

"Because she has breached the Ministerial Handbook she will not be having that responsibility.

"I want to reassure Queenslanders that everyone on my team will absolutely redouble their efforts."

While admitting the scandal had damaged her Government's reputation, Ms Palaszczuk revealed Ms Trad would act as premier when she flies out tonight to Switzerland and France on an Olympic Games fact-finding mission.

"I think Queenslanders have been just as frustrated as I have, in all frankness," she said.

"It has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks, and finally today there is a line in the sand.

"I accept and draw that line in the sand."

She committed to introducing the CCC's five recommendations, including making it a criminal offence when ministers fail to declare interests to Parliament and Cabinet.

But the decision not to sack Ms Trad has left divisions within Labor, with one figure last night saying the Premier had "blown a perfect opportunity to stand for something".

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington maintained Ms Trad should be sacked.

"Jackie Trad has clearly breached the rules and the only job Jackie Trad deserves is to be a backbencher," she said.

Ms Trad said she was deeply disappointed in herself and accepted the punishment "meted out".

"I'm glad the CCC has found no evidence of dishonesty or corruption, but that doesn't change the fact that I made a mistake," she said.

"The Premier has a right to expect the highest standards from all of her ministers and on this occasion I did not meet those standards."

Ms Trad also released the Integrity Commissioner advice she received on her conflict and promised to immediately sell the three-bedroom home at the centre of scandal.

Integrity Commissioner Nikola Stepanov said Ms Trad had a conflict of interest because a "fair-minded person" would not believe she could be objective.

"Given my view that you have a conflict of interest ... I do not consider that it is desirable or appropriate that you participate in future Cabinet discussions or decisions that may materially affect the Boggo Road Station," she wrote.
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Couriermail --> Analysis: Palaszczuk a much diminished figure after Trad saga

QuoteAnnastacia Palaszczuk emerges from the Jackie Trad scandal a much diminished figure, confirming it's her deputy who's really in charge, writes Steven Wardill.

LESS work, same wage isn't much a penalty for Treasurer Jackie Trad to pay.

After all, while Trad might not have direct oversight of Cross River Rail any more, she will retain a seat at the Cabinet table, where all the major decisions on the $7 billion project will be made.

And she'll get to be acting premier from tonight, despite an excoriating dressing-down by Queensland's corruption watchdog.

Extraordinary.

The person who will pay the highest price for Trad's indiscretions will be Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

She emerges from Trad's property purchase scandal a much diminished figure with a record on integrity that is arguably worse than any premier since Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

Her Government has already changed voting and donation laws to advantage itself politically.

Now Trad becomes the second minister after Mark Bailey to breach the ministerial code of conduct and not pay for it with her ministerial post.

It's no coincidence both hail from the dominant Left faction.

Palaszczuk's inability to force Trad out confirms that when push comes to shove in Queensland's current Labor administration, it is actually the Treasurer who is in charge.

What other conclusion could be drawn after the Crime and Corruption Commission yesterday found Trad's repeated failures to declare her property weren't a crime, but should be?

This all works in Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington's favour.

The debate to come about new laws to make what Trad did a offence will be a damaging distraction and keep this issue alive.

Trad's continued presence as the Government's second-in-charge will also serve as a constant reminder that under Palaszczuk Government there is no real price to be paid for integrity crime.

If the external perception problems of having an unpopular deputy that the premier can't sack aren't bad enough, the internal machinations just make it much worse.

Trad might have publicly picked contrition yesterday.

But she seems unperturbed by the fact she's driven deep divisions within the Government by refusing to go.

Palaszczuk's personal popularity and support for her Government was already slipping, according to The Courier-Mail's latest YouGov Poll last weekend, which also showed most Queenslanders wanted Trad gone.

Now the Premier will have to limp along with a divisive deputy, a divided Caucus and a black mark against her over integrity.

Trad's Cabinet career will continue, but this scandal could be the beginning of the end for the Palaszczuk Government.
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The Australian --> Integrity blunder: Jackie Trad loses Queensland rail project

QuoteQueensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has stripped her deputy of responsibility for the state's largest infrastructure project­ as punishment for breaking integrity rules, and promised to shake up her government after weeks of bruising integrity woes.

However, Ms Palaszczuk will allow Jackie Trad to remain in cabinet and lead the state as acting premier from tomorrow, despite a Crime and Corruption Commission ruling clearing the Deputy Premier of corruption and dishonesty but finding she breached ministerial and cabinet rules.

The CCC found ministers who failed to properly declare and manage conflicts of interest could not currently be hit with criminal sanctions but should be, forcing the Premier to agree to a dramatic toughening of state laws governing ministerial misbehaviour.

Ms Palaszczuk also revealed she had accepted the resignation of her chief of staff, David Barbagallo, who is under assessment by the CCC over separate integrity allegations, but insisted it was not an admission he had done anything­ wrong.

Mr Barbagallo's exit means the CCC no longer has the option of deciding he should be sacked, if it makes adverse findings against him in relation to $267,500 in state government ­financing awarded to a company he co-owns.

A defiant Ms Trad apologised on Friday for making "a mistake" in failing to declare on her pecun­iary interest register and in a key cabinet meeting that her husband had bought an investment property on March 27 through their family trust, near a proposed station for her signature infrastructure project, the Cross River Rail. The three-bedroom Woolloon­gabba house stands to rise in value thanks to its proximity to the $5.4bn project, the state's largest.

The CCC found Ms Trad's ­husband, lawyer Damien Van Brunschot, only texted his wife to advise of the $700,000 "property to be purchased and location" on March 29, two days after he signed the contract to buy it.

Ms Trad revealed ­on Friday ­ Integrity Commissioner advice that she should have ­declared the conflict and absented herself from a cabinet budget review committee meeting on April 3, when she helped decide to keep the Boggo Road station as part of the railway's route.

"I'm glad the CCC has found no evidence of dishonesty or corruption, but that doesn't change the fact that I made a mistake," Ms Trad said. "I failed to complete a disclosure process, that's what happened."

Ms Trad and her husband will now sell the house for the price Mr Van Brunschot paid.

Ms Palaszczuk defended her decision not to dump Ms Trad from cabinet and insisted she was acting appropriately by stripping responsibility for the rail project from the Deputy Premier and giving­ it to Tourism Industry Developm­ent Minister Kate Jones. Ms Trad had already temp­orarily ­relinquished the job after the scandal broke.

The breaches have not stopped Ms Palaszczuk from leaving Ms Trad as acting premier for a week from Sunday, when the Premier leaves to meet the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland to discuss southeast Queensland's 2032 Olympics bid.

Ms Palaszczuk said the integrity allegations had been damaging for her government, along with the seven-week wait for the CCC to rule on Ms Trad's investment property. "I want to say that I have been just as frustrated as everyone else out there awaiting this decision," she said. "And yes, I believe it has also had an impact on my government. I want to reassure Queenslanders here today that everyone on my team will absolute­ly redouble their efforts."

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington criticised Ms Palaszczuk for failing to relegate Ms Trad to the backbench, signalling the polit­ical attacks on the government were unlikely to subside.

"Annastacia Palaszczuk needed to sack Jackie Trad today and she failed," Ms Frecklington said.

"Jackie Trad has clearly broken both the cabinet handbook and the ministerial handbook and weak Annastacia Palaszczuk did absolutely nothing about it."

After weeks of assessing the allega­tions against Ms Trad, the CCC decided not to launch a full corruption investigation.

But it did identify corruption risks in the way cabinet works. "The CCC is of the view the current process for declaring actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest in matters before cabinet is not consistent with best governance practice and should be improve­d," the watchdog said.
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ozbob

#91
What a shambles all round really.  The only thing that might save the Palaszczuk mob is that the Frecklington mob don't seem to have a cohesive policy framework either, the memory of the Newman mob lingers ..

Having the DP acting Premier from today is just throwing more mud at the punters ...
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Half baked projects, have long term consequences ...
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STB

I really don't get the whole hoohar over Trad's husband purchasing a property in an area that's been known for years to have a new rail station built (and already has a major station, Park Road/Boggo Road existing).  Frankly to me just sounds like a cheap shot by the opposition to give themselves some sort of relevance in the media.  I mean, Trad IS the local member for the area so naturally she's going to live in the area she represents - which weirdly (and I don't know exactly where Trad lives), but it wouldn't surprise me she already lives near a major public transport corridor already given the number of high frequency bus services in the area given it's inner city.

Also, it seems that ol Murdoch and The Courier Mail has decided that attacking the Qld ALP is the order of the day and will probably ramp up as the election gets closer - unsurprisingly.

ozbob

As Ms Trad said she made a mistake.  The mistake was not buying the property per se it was failing to declare a conflict interest, and not updating the register of interests.  Interestingly if a councillor did the same thing they would be criminally liable.  This is why the CCC has recommended (and the Premier has accepted) that the state move to the same requirement as for councillors.

Agreed though, the CM will and has gone overtime on it.

I am happy that Ms Trad is no longer in charge of CRR, frankly as treasurer there is too much do just in that portfolio.
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Couriermail --> LNP to fund war chest to overthrow Jackie Trad in South Brisbane

QuoteJACKIE Trad is facing renewed pressure in her marginal South Brisbane electorate in the wake of the integrity crisis over her investment property with the LNP vowing to redouble efforts to oust her at next year's State Election.

The Sunday Mail can reveal the LNP will seek to capitalise on the saga by asking their party members to donate money to help fund their campaign against her and the Palaszczuk Government.

"Annastacia Palaszczuk thinks this is the end of the matter. We know it's not. Queenslanders know it's not," an email to members seeking a $40 campaign donation reads,

It is also standing by its decision to direct its voters to preference the Deputy Premier last on How-to-Vote cards, below the Greens.

Ms Trad revealed on Friday she was standing by her decision to remain in the seat — which she holds with a margin of just 3.55 per cent — rather than switching to a safer Labor electorate like Toohey to ensure she remains in Parliament after the October 31, 2020 poll.

The Greens also believe the saga is hurting Ms Trad.

"I've heard from a lot of residents who are concerned about Jackie's investment properties," Greens Councillor Jonathan Sri said.

Cr Sri said his party was already looking "very strong" in South Brisbane due to its policies.

"The broader problem here is that politicians who hold lots of investment properties are always going to have a conflict of interest when it comes to urban planning issues.

"This isn't really about Jackie — it's about a broken political system more generally."

Queensland Labor state secretary Julie-Ann Campbell, however, said the only way the Greens could win was through their "sweetheart deal with the LNP and Deb Frecklington".

"Deb Frecklington must explain why she's done a deal with the Greens," she said.

It comes amid some caucus unrest over Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's decision not to punish Ms Trad further for breaching the Cabinet and Ministerial handbooks and for the damage her integrity crisis has caused Labor.

The Deputy Premier and Treasurer was stripped of Cross River Rail but has retained her dual roles and has been appointed acting Premier this week.

Several MPs have expressed concern over the decision, worried Labor was wasting political capital saving Ms Trad when it was already facing an uphill battle to retain government in the wake of Labor's brutal drubbing at the May Federal Election.

Caucus was also not consulted on the strategy to deal with the integrity crisis.

Griffith University political science expert Dr Paul Williams said Ms Trad's chances of winning the seat were "very, very slim" regardless of the integrity issue.

He predicted that the LNP's preference arrangement would help push the Greens over the line in the South Brisbane electorate in 2020.

"She can't win her seat back," he said.

"It's a forgone conclusion."
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Stillwater

I wonder how much money and resources the Labor Party will throw at Jackie Trad's seat come the next election, given her slim margin, the LNP decision to preference her after the Greens and the Greens tenacity to unseat her.  Will they come to the realisation that the money required to prop up Ms Trad could go to one or two other marginal seats where they have a greater chance of winning.  Time will tell.

ozbob

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Couriermail --> Crime watchdog to continue probe into corrupt conduct allegations against David Barbagallo

QuoteQueensland's corruption watchdog says it will make more inquiries as it continues to assess corrupt conduct allegations levelled at Annastacia Palaszczuk's former chief of staff.

QUEENSLAND'S corruption watchdog says it has more inquiries to make as it continues its assessment of corrupt conduct allegations levelled at Annastacia Palaszczuk's former chief of staff.

The Crime and Corruption Commission issued a statement "in the public interest" regarding its probe into the $267,500 taxpayer-funded coinvestment awarded to a company part-owned by David Barbagallo - Fortress Capstone - to create a smartphone app.

It comes after the CCC was last month handed a copy of Ernst and Young's external review of the Advance Queensland Business Development fund coinvestment awarded to Fortress Capstone, ordered by the Department of Premier and Cabinet after the funding was revealed during this year's Budget Estimates hearings.

"The CCC has considered the review report obtained by the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (through an external company) with respect to the grant allocation process and how it related to Fortress Capstone Pty Ltd," the CCC said in a statement.

"The CCC considers that further enquiries need to be made in relation to the matter.

"The CCC does not intend to comment further until it has finished dealing with the matter."

Mr Barbagallo left the chief of staff's job last month.

Ms Palaszczuk insisted his departure was not related to the integrity saga surrounding the funding.

She said Mr Barbagallo had informed her in June, before the revelations came to light.

Mr Barbagallo has denied any wrongdoing and says he declared his interest as required and withdrew his involvement in the application process when he joined the Premier's office in 2017.
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Couriermail --> Queensland Labor in another integrity scandal

QuoteJust a few months after Jackie Trad failed to declare a possible conflict of interest over an investment property, another Labor MP is under fire over work his company received.

A SENIOR Palaszczuk Government member failed to declare his law firm received a significant volume of work from Legal Aid in a fresh integrity scandal for the strife-prone administration.

The Courier-Mail can reveal Member for Toohey Peter Russo's firm Russo Lawyers has been on the official panel to receive publicly funded legal work representing disadvantaged Queenslanders for at least four years.

The revelation has raised conflict-of-interest questions about Mr Russo's role chairing State Parliament's powerful Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee which he has held since early last year.

The committee oversees the Legal Aid's budget as well as all legislation that affects the body. Mr Russo denies any wrongdoing.

The latest annual report for Legal Aid, which spends almost half its $138 million budget on private lawyers, shows Mr Russo's outfit was one of 25 firms that had received more than 20 briefs a year for the past three years.

While the second-term MP lists his ownership of Russo Lawyers and the firm as an income source on State Parliament's Register of Members Interests, he does not list Legal Aid. State Parliament rules state members should list all income sources above $950 a year that they receive personally or through a company or trust. Income sources below the threshold that "appear to raise, or could foreseeably raise, a conflict between the member's private interest and their duty as a member" must also be declared.

The issue comes after Deputy Premier Jackie Trad was engulfed in a long-running integrity scandal after she failed to declare purchasing a Woolloongabba investment property.

Mr Russo was forced to amend his biography on his legal firm's website earlier this year after The Courier-Mail revealed he was spruiking himself as an elected MP and a former chair of the powerful parliamentary crime and corruption committee.

An experienced lawyer, Mr Russo yesterday insisted he had satisfied all the requirements of the register by declaring his interest in the law firm and the ongoing income he received from it.

"I have met the requirements of my pecuniary interest register to the best of my knowledge as required under the Standing Orders," he said.

Asked whether he had received advice to say that Legal Aid did not have to be listed, Mr Russo said "I answered your question, to the best of my knowledge. If you know different please share".

However, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said it was clear Mr Russo had broken the rules. "What makes this worse is that Mr Russo is Labor's chair of the Parliamentary Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee which signs off on Legal Aid's budget," she said. "This is a massive scandal and Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to show leadership and ... order a full independent investigation."
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ozbob

Couriermail --> Editorial: Labor members not learning the lessons

QuoteAFTER the long-running integrity sagas involving Deputy Premier Jackie Trad's Woolloongabba investment property and the payment of taxpayer funds to a company run by the Premier's former chief of staff, you could be forgiven for thinking state MPs would have ensured they declared any potential conflict of interest.

But revelations that Toohey MP Peter Russo failed to disclose substantial Legal Aid revenue received by his law firm is another stain on the government's record of transparency.

His firm, Russo Lawyers, is one of just 25 that have received more than 20 Legal Aid briefs a year for the past three years.

Mr Russo has argued he has met the disclosure requirements by declaring his interest in his own law firm on the pecuniary interests register. But what is not clear from that declaration is that taxpayer funded Legal Aid work provides a significant stream of income to his firm. This would seem to be relevant information to be publicly disclosed given the potential for a perceived conflict of interest.

As the chair of the Parliamentary Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee, Mr Russo is in a position to have influence over decisions about Legal Aid, including its budget.

The disclosure rules for Queensland Parliament's Register of Members Interests are unfortunately a little unclear themselves.

MPs are required to list all income sources above $950 a year whether they are paid directly or through a company or trust.

Income of less than $950 a year must still be disclosed if it could "appear to raise, or could foreseeable raise, a conflict between the member's private interest and their duty as a member".

It is not hard to see how the receipt of Legal Aid funding by Mr Russo's firm could raise perceptions of a potential conflict between his private interests and his parliamentary work.

Even if Mr Russo's failure to be completely transparent about his own financial interests is within these rules, it does not pass the pub test. Mr Russo may have satisfied the disclosure requirements by declaring income from his firm but surely the fact that part of that income comes from taxpayer funds is a relevant fact that should be spelled out.

This is especially the case given the direct say Mr Russo has in the $138 million Legal Aid budget through his committee role – the fact his firm is paid from this budget should be declared.

If there is enough technical wriggle room in the rules to allow the nature of his firm's financial benefit to go undisclosed, that suggests rules need to be tightened.

After the government's recent history with integrity scandals, MPs from all sides should be as open as possible about potential conflicts of interest. If there is any doubt, an interest should be disclosed. This seems to be obvious.

If Annastacia Palaszczuk is to rebuild trust in her government, any apparent obfuscation should not be accepted. Mr Russo should explain why he elected not to disclose the significant interest his firms has in the budget of a government agency that he has a say over.
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SurfRail

No, there is no bloody "pub test" issue in play here.  This is getting beyond ridiculous.
Ride the G:

ozbob

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Half baked projects, have long term consequences ...
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Brisbanetimes --> Jackie Trad referred to Parliament's ethics committee

QuoteDeputy Premier Jackie Trad has been referred to Parliament's ethics committee over her failure to declare the purchase of a house in Woolloongabba.

Speaker Curtis Pitt tabled his decision late on Friday afternoon, confirming he had decided it would be "prudent" to refer the Deputy Premier to the ethics committee.

A spokesman for Ms Trad said she would "cooperate fully with the ethics committee, as she did with the CCC".

"The CCC found there was no evidence of corrupt or dishonest conduct in the Deputy Premier's late lodgement of paperwork relating to the purchase of a property," he said.

"As the matter is now before the ethics committee, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

The house, purchased by Ms Trad's husband within the Cross River Rail corridor for $700,000, was not properly declared by Ms Trad, who publicly and repeatedly apologised for the oversight.

The house was recently on-sold.

The Speaker's decision follows a finalised investigation by the Crime and Corruption Commission which cleared Ms Trad but recommended legislative changes which would have seen her conduct criminalised.

The CCC also identified allegations they referred back to the Parliament for consideration over a potential ethics committee investigation.

Mr Pitt's decision noted that while he "did not agree with all of the CCC assertions" he was "duty bound" to consider if he was required to exercise his power to refer Ms Trad to the ethics committee.

"I have reached the conclusion that there are sufficient questions of fact to be determined against the evidence such that it would be prudent to refer the matters to the ethics committee for further consideration," he wrote in his decision.

"I also wish to stress that I have not taken this decision lightly, and I have given this decision lengthy and serious consideration."

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the referral was "unprecedented" and called for Ms Trad to be sacked by Premier Annastasia Palaszczuk.

"This has never happened before in Queensland politics and shows how deep the integrity crisis goes in the Palaszczuk government," Ms Frecklington said.

"Jackie Trad's position is untenable as a decision maker while this investigation is taking place."
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#Metro

Yawn. I can't believe how ineffective the opposition are.

Can anyone remember any of their current policies? Me neither.

Maybe the Coomera connector and that's it.
Negative people... have a problem for every solution. Posts are commentary and are not necessarily endorsed by RAIL Back on Track or its members.

ozbob

Couriermail --> Curtis Pitt refers Jackie Trad to Ethics Committee over Cross River Rail property

QuoteTreasurer Jackie Trad is under renewed pressure to resign from Cabinet as the scandal over her investment property refuses to go away.

TREASURER Jackie Trad was last night under renewed pressure to resign from Cabinet over her house scandal, after a behind-the-scenes tit-for-tat with Speaker Curtis Pitt sparked her referral to Parliament's powerful Ethics Committee.

Mr Pitt lambasted Ms Trad in a scathing 12-page letter tabled in Parliament late yesterday in which he criticised her for repeatedly failing to apologise for not properly declaring her property purchase.

The Courier-Mail revealed in July that Ms Trad had failed to declare a three-bedroom Woolloongabba home she and her husband purchased near the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project which she managed.

The revelation sparked the most damaging scandal to hit the Palaszczuk Government since it was elected in 2015, and prompted widespread internal calls within the Labor Party for Ms Trad to quit.

A long-running Crime and Corruption Commission inquiry found Ms Trad's actions were not criminal but should be, with the watchdog recommending a new offence for ministerial disclosure failures.

Ms Trad was later stripped of responsibility for the Cross River Rail project. In his ruling, Mr Pitt revealed the CCC had written to him in September seeking an Ethics Committee investigation, and his hand had been forced because of Ms Trad's failure to say sorry in Parliament and refusal to provide him with relevant material to explain her position.

"Had the Deputy Premier made an apology in the House, similar to the one she made outside the House on 6 September 2019, I would have been comfortable in ruling that an adequate apology has been made and the matter does not warrant the further attention of the House," he says in the letter tabled to Parliament.

"However, in the absence of such an apology in the House, I cannot so rule."

Mr Pitt's referral centres on Ms Trad's failure to declare the property within a month as required and a little-known rule introduced in the wake of the 1990s Netbet Affair under which MPs must disclose conflicts when corresponding with other members.

The Speaker revealed Ms Trad claimed in correspondence with him to have legal advice which absolved her of the conflicts of interest identified by Queensland's Integrity Commissioner but was refusing to provide him a copy.

"It is impossible for me to rule on the adequacy of such an explanation when I have not been provided with the full material including the legal advice that is the purported basis of her explanation," he wrote.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the Speaker's actions were "unprecedented" and Ms Trad should be sacked.

"This has never happened before in Queensland politics and shows how deep the integrity crisis goes in the Palaszczuk Government," she said. "It is now another test of leadership for the Premier, she must finally act and sack ... Jackie Trad."
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Couriermail --> Jackie Trad under siege as voters abandon Deputy Premier in wake of integrity crisis

QuoteAn exclusive poll commissioned by The Courier-Mail has revealed support for Jackie Trad has plummeted in the wake of her ill-fated purchase of a property near the Cross River Rail project.

JACKIE Trad faces a titanic fight to retain her inner Brisbane seat with support for the beleaguered Deputy Premier plummeting since the 2017 state election.

An exclusive poll commissioned by The Courier-Mail has revealed Ms Trad's vote in the high-profile contest of South Brisbane has nose-dived with just 10 months left before next year's October 31 state election.

The Left faction leader, who is often touted as the most powerful person in Queensland, still holds a slender two-party preferred lead but confronts the embarrassing prospect of being shunted into third place behind The Greens and the LNP if she loses any further support.

The results come after the controversy and cacophony of Ms Trad's ill-fated purchase of a three-bedroom property in Woolloongabba near the Cross River Rail project, which dominated the Queensland political landscape for six months.

The Courier-Mail revealed Ms Trad failed to include the home as required on Parliament's Register of Member's Interests, participated in Cabinet meetings without declaring her conflict and successfully pushed to retain a new train station proposed near her property.

Ms Trad was forced to sell the $695,500 home for no profit after a damning assessment by the state's Integrity Commissioner and was stripped of responsibility for Cross River Rail.

A Crime and Corruption Commission probe found her actions were not criminal but should be.

The watchdog's proposed new laws to apply criminal sanctions to ministers who fail to properly declare their interests were introduced into Parliament last week and will be debated next year.

Ms Trad also faces an Ethics Committee investigation after being referred by Speaker Curtis Pitt.

The UComms Poll of almost 700 South Brisbane residents has revealed Ms Trad's primary vote has crashed from 36 per cent in the 2017 election to 27.5 per cent.

The Greens, who are yet to confirm a candidate but have fuelled anti-Adani sentiment in the electorate after the controversial mine was approved by the Government, are ahead of Ms Trad with 29.4 per cent of the vote, down from the 34 per cent at the election.

The LNP has been the main beneficiary of the debacle, with support inching forward from 24 per cent to 26.6 per cent, less than 1 per cent behind the Deputy Premier and Treasurer.

A significant 10 per cent of the electorate remains undecided and only a quarter of those voters indicated they were leaning towards Labor.

Ms Trad's support was weakest among female voters, with just 25 per cent backing her, and strongest in the 65 years and older age group.

The Greens dominated among younger voters, with 36.6 per cent of those in the 18-34 year age bracket backing the party.

On a two-party preferred basis, Ms Trad led 52 per cent to The Greens' 48 per cent, down from the 3.6 per cent margin she achieved at the 2017 election in which Adani was a central issue.

However, the poll's preferences don't accommodate for the impact of LNP how-to-vote cards, with the party planning to break from convention and advise its voters to back The Greens over Ms Trad in South Brisbane.

The eclectic inner-city seat shapes as a major flashpoint at next year's election and a distraction from the main campaign, at which Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will aim to secure a historic third term.
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