Crisis may reveal who’s really the boss

ANNASTACIA Palaszczuk faces the most challenging decision of her political career if Queensland's corruption watchdog launches a formal investigation into her deputy, Jackie Trad.

Will she stand Trad aside?

Or perhaps the more pertinent question is, can she stand Trad aside?

The scandal that has engulfed Trad over her purchase of a property within the Cross River Rail corridor has brought to the fore the long-running power struggle within the Queensland Labor Party.

Is Palaszczuk, the popular premier who brought Labor back from the brink to win two elections, really in charge?

Or when push comes to shove, does authority really reside with Trad's dominant Left faction and the influential union bosses it counts among its members?

These questions, along with all the ensuing issues standing Trad aside could create, are a hot topic of conversation right now among Labor figures, as they cast their eye towards an October 31, 2020 election date that is locked and loaded.

No one is sure what decision Palaszczuk would make, but everyone is convinced she's desperate not to make it.


Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (left) has failed to take a firm position on her deputy’s woes.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (left) has failed to take a firm position on her deputy’s woes.


Palaszczuk has played a cautious hand so far. She's neither backed her deputy nor criticised her for the improper property purchase.

"Let's wait and see where it's at," is the most the Premier has offered since this scandal beset her administration.

Of course, there's no guarantee that the Crime and Corruption Commission will decide to launch a formal investigation.

There is nothing in the public domain that suggests Trad traded on inside information.

But the timing of both the property purchase and when the decision was made around the Cross River Rail route raises questions that need to be answered.

The contract for the Woolloongabba home was signed just seven days before Trad participated in the decision on which bidder would build Cross River Rail.

And the Government chose to include a Boggo Road station closer to Trad's property even though two of the three bidders wanted to put it elsewhere.

Many Labor figures believe the watchdog is now obligated to treat the matter seriously following CCC chairman Alan MacSporran's decision to recuse himself after Trad phoned to inform him she was referring herself.



Palaszczuk's problem is that she has created the precedent of ministers stepping aside while the CCC investigates.

That's what happened in the case of Transport Minister Mark Bailey when the CCC probed his errant use of private email.

If Palaszczuk fails to do the same with Trad her lack of authority as leader will be exposed. It will appear to confirm what many have been saying, that when it comes to the tough decisions it's the deputy who is actually in charge.

And when it came to a matter of integrity, Palaszczuk chose to do nothing.

But could Trad go willingly? Could she temporarily take up a seat on the far-reaches of the backbench?

Unlikely, some say.

However, if the Government regards the political situation as grave, Trad might just surprise her detractors and make the magnanimous decision to temporarily stand down.


The Woolloongabba investment property at the centre of Treasurer Jackie Trad’s integrity crisis. Picture: Josh Woning/AAP
The Woolloongabba investment property at the centre of Treasurer Jackie Trad’s integrity crisis. Picture: Josh Woning/AAP


Such a move would put the Labor Government into uncharted waters. It would not be tenable to have another minister act as a part-time treasurer.

And as the CCC under MacSporran's leadership has shown during its probes into local government, it won't quicken the pace of its investigations just to suit the prerogatives of politicians.

The questions keep coming about whether Palaszczuk will have to remove Trad permanently for the good of her government, which Left faction figure will be deputy and who should be treasurer in any revamped frontbench.

And regardless of what the CCC decides, do Trad's transgressions breach the ministerial handbook and should this be enough to force Palaszczuk to act?

Labor figures know that their leader may have to answer to all of this.

What scares them is that the fate of the Government may rest on what Palaszczuk decides.



This old Chestnutt


Caoilin Chestnutt
Caoilin Chestnutt

FORMER Queensland resources investment commissioner Caoilin Chestnutt has landed on her feet after a tumultuous time in the state's employ.

Ms Chestnutt has joined the advisory board of project managers Siecap.

The former mining consultant wasn't exactly flavour of the month when she described the approval process for the Adani mine as an "absolute mess" while on a visit to India in February. The Government later decided it didn't need a resources investment commissioner any more.



Neuron Mobility scooters will be introduced into Brisbane
Neuron Mobility scooters will be introduced into Brisbane



Orange is the new lime



WHEN will Neuron Mobility start rolling its bright orange e-scooters into town?

They were supposed to start hitting Brisbane's streets from July 22, right?

Meanwhile, rival Lime Scooters has scaled back their numbers as required by the Council, forcing staff to be sacked.




Member for Toohey Peter Russo
Member for Toohey Peter Russo




MP vacancy coming?



SPEAKING of legal appointment, the search is apparently under way for a new legal services commissioner.

And among the names mentioned in dispatches already is none other than the erudite Peter Russo.

Obviously Mr Russo is very busy right now with all his work as the Member for Toohey.

But such a shift would create a rather convenient vacancy if a Labor MP just happens to be looking for a safer seat.



Trade and Investment Queensland’s Paul Martyn at Budget Estimates this week. Picture: Jono Searle/AAP
Trade and Investment Queensland’s Paul Martyn at Budget Estimates this week. Picture: Jono Searle/AAP




Master of the non-answer


AMID all the blank stares and blundering of Budget Estimates hearings, a true champion of obfuscation emerged from the bowels of the bureaucracy.

Trade and Investment Queensland acting boss Paul Martyn deftly swerved around questions about misappropriation of public monies at his outfit's Korean outpost.

Apparently the hearings are now obliged to respect the inner workings of the Korean justice system, so he couldn't answer curly questions.



Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe
Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe




High cost of doing nothing


AND amid all the other scandal, it was revealed that Racing Queensland spent $51,000 not to move address.

Let me repeat that, NOT to move address.

It signed an intention-to-lease deal and had to pay up after Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe scotched its plans to decamp its Deagon digs.

Who cares? It's only money.




Peter Dutton and Rebecca Treston
Peter Dutton and Rebecca Treston




QC's Labor of love


AND this picture was raising a few hairy eyebrows among legal types at the Bar Association's dinner last Friday at Cloudland.

On the left is Peter "Spud" Dutton and on the right is Queensland Bar Association president Rebecca Treston, QC.

The talented Ms Treston must be on a short list somewhere for a judicial appoint.

But will this picture hinder or help?





Governor Paul de Jersey was not amused.
Governor Paul de Jersey was not amused.



Premier unfashionably late


THERE were awkward scenes at the Governor's five-year anniversary shindig at Government House on Monday night.

A frustrated Paul de Jersey acknowledged Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's empty seat as he belatedly began his speech.

Then things got really messy when one of the Governor's aide-de-camps interrupted him after noticing the Premier walk past a window.

The room of 200-odd sat in stony silence as Ms Palaszczuk took her place.




Cross River Rail expert required for speaking gig.
Cross River Rail expert required for speaking gig.




One-track mind wanted


THE Urban Development Institute of Australia (Queensland) is on the hunt for a speaker for its September 19 boardroom event.

The successful application must be well versed in the development opportunities presented by the State Government's Cross River Rail.

Now which high-profile person could wax lyrical about such a topic?






The week that was


Good week: The tiger in the long grass, Labor MP Jo-Ann Miller, finally got to prowl at Budget Estimates hearings.


Bad week: Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan, who finally turned up to Budget Estimates hearings but did not achieve much.


Exchange of the week:

Member for Noosa Sandy Bolton: "Basically, we do not have any ideas at all?"

Transport Minister Mark Bailey: "I cannot confirm that at this stage."