11 ways pair have failed the pub test

THE integrity crisis that has engulfed the State Labor Government would be laughable if it wasn't so serious.

Or should that be serious if it wasn't so laughable?

Treasurer and Member for South Brisbane Jackie Trad purchased a property along the route of the Cross River Rail project - seemingly unbeknown to herself - and it shapes as the biggest scandal of the administration's tenure.

The integrity crisis that has engulfed the Palaszczuk Government would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. Illustration: Brett Lethbridge
The integrity crisis that has engulfed the Palaszczuk Government would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. Illustration: Brett Lethbridge

And a handout to a company co-owned by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's chief of staff David Barbagello to develop a cruise-ship-tracking app - which the Premier initially didn't know whether she knew about - is not that far behind.

Trad's "I knew nothing" defence has left her colleagues perplexed, given her penchant for poking into other ministers' affairs.

Meanwhile, Palaszczuk's inability to see the cruise-ship-sized ethical problem of a company part-owned by her right-hand man receiving public monies is beyond belief.

Here are 11 reasons why these two integrity issues don't pass the pub test:

 

1. "Honey, I bought a house. XOXO".

Trad says she never knew about the property purchase. Her husband did it.

She reckons she was so busy looking after the finances of the state that she didn't have time to discuss dollars and common sense at home.

Apparently, the only time the topic came up was when Trad received a text message from her husband.

Seriously, who buys a $700,000 investment property without discussing it with their partner?

Hands up who might not know that a company they co-own purchased a property?

Thought so.

Trad knew enough about the purchase to use the property to house victims of the South Brisbane boarding house blaze but didn't clue to the conflicts?

That doesn't pass the pub test

 

The Woolloongabba investment property bought by Jackie Trad
The Woolloongabba investment property bought by Jackie Trad

 

2. Conflicts? No way. Sell the property? You bet. Hang on, wait a minute…

It's our money and we'll do what we want to, Trad has insisted.

But we'll sell the property and tell the buyer they can't pay more than the $695,500 we paid for it, Trad has also insisted.

You couldn't make this stuff up.

Clearly, these two positions are inconsistent.

Either there's no conflict of interest, or perception of it, and everybody can bugger off.

Or the purchase presents a wee bit of an ethical problem and the property should be put on the market immediately.

It can't be both or somewhere in between.

That doesn't pass the pub test.

 

3. Location, location, location.

Any mug could have speculated on property along the Cross River Rail route, Trad reckoned.

Nothing to see here because the route has been "publicly known for years".

However, it turns out there was an alternative route proposed that didn't involve a new station near Trad's property.

So anyone who speculated on this station going ahead risked looking like a mug. Fortunately, the Government apparently went against the advice and picked the original route on April 3.

The contract for Trad's property purchase was signed seven days earlier.

That doesn't pass the pub test.

 

 

 

4. Route? What route?

It's all terribly inconvenient that the Government has invented rules that prevent it confirming the alternative route, let alone discussing why it opted to ignore it.

The bidding process might be closed and the tender decided but it all has to remain hush hush, according to the administration that made the decision.

Apparently, the rules created around commercial-in-confidence still apply when the process is over.

Why did the Government choose Boggo Rd? What was the advice from the experts? Was it ignored?

That doesn't pass the pub test.

 

 

5. The advice about the updated advice is not to release any advice. So there.

That might not make sense, but that's what Trad's saying and she's sticking to it, kind of.

Trad originally said she'd release her Integrity Commissioner advice about the property purchase.

Palaszczuk promised to peruse it.

However, Trad subsequently asked for more advice and then referred herself to the Crime and Corruption Commission.

And even though Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington had already referred her over the same matter before Trad promised to release the advice, Trad insisted her referral of herself meant she now had advice not to release anything.

Has Palaszczuk read the advice? She's still getting advice on that.

That doesn't pass the pub test.

 

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

 

6. Don't you know who I am?

Picture this. Alan MacSporran, the boss of the all-powerful Crime and Corruption Commission bedecked in lycra and going for a walk on a brisk Sunday morning.

The phone vibrates in his bike pants and an all-too familiar name, saved from previous contact, is calling.

It's Jackie Trad.

MacSporran is an affable fellow but most politicians studiously avoid ringing the CCC when they're already the subject of a complaint.

And who would ever call to chat before referring themselves?

Jackie Trad, that's who.

Just a harmless "courtesy call", Trad insists. She's done it before.

MacSporran is tight lipped about the five minute chat but civil libertarian Terry O'Gorman smells a rat.

That doesn't pass the pub test.

 

 

 

Alan Macsporran
Alan Macsporran

 

7. Stand by me, oh stand by me

With Ben E King's tune playing in her ears, Annastacia Palaszczuk is standing by her deputy.

And why wouldn't she?

Trad might be in charge of Queensland's purse strings and required to maintain the highest standards of integrity.

She might have purchased a property that will benefit from her ministerial decisions.

And yes, sure she failed to declare it on state parliament's register of member's interests on time and that might constitute contempt.

But stand her down? Who are you kidding?

Palaszczuk hasn't even mustered the courage to even gently criticise the powerful Left faction leader.

That doesn't pass the pub test.

 

 

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Treasurer Jackie Trad
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Treasurer Jackie Trad

 

8. We'll always have Paris and London and New York

Who better to sell Queensland as an investment destination right now than Jackie Trad?

Annastacia Palaszczuk won't ground her deputy from going on the annual post-Budget investment trip.

But that's not because she shouldn't go but because the Government has no one else who can go.

Seriously, she said that. But why can't Palaszczuk go instead?

She is the trade minister, after all.

Maybe that's because it's the Premier's birthday weekend and she has far better things to do than hang out with bureaucrats and financial boffins.

That doesn't pass the pub test.

 

 

 

9. In the ship business

THERE are some rules about being in public office that are so damn obvious that they don't need to be written down.

Surely, not receiving for public funds for your private company when you're a powerful official is one of them?

Apparently not.

Annastacia Palaszczuk's chief of staff, David Barbagello, and the Premier herself, see no problem with a company he part-owns asking for and receiving taxpayer-funded aid.

The panel that picked this app won't say whether they knew of Barbagello's involvement and neither will fund manager, the Queensland Investment Corporation.

That doesn't pass the pub test.

 

 

 

 

10. Getting out of the ship

WITH the likes of Shark Tank tech giant Steve Baxter among investors, the question arises as to why the Government needed to invest in this app at all.

And now the investment has flared into a political problem, surely it make sense to abandon ship?

However, apparently the decision to buy or sell is the sole responsibility of the independent fund that made the decision.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Treasurer Jackie Trad
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Treasurer Jackie Trad

11. Sailing deeper into murky waters.

LIFE is often easier in Opposition.

During those heady days, Annastacia Palaszczuk was a stickler for integrity.

She demanded Campbell Newman's director general release his declaration of interests.

She demanded LNP MP Ray Stevens release integrity advice.

And she demand independent inquiries into almost everything.

But she'll do none of the above when it comes to David Barbagello.

Instead, the Premier reckons Queenslanders can trust her when she says Barbagello declared his company as required and acted on the integrity advice he received after the decision.

And she'll get her department's director general to conduct an audit.

That doesn't pass the pub test.