Labor Intergity Scandal

Government grant awarded to Premier’s chief-of-staff

by Ted Sorensen
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The Palaszczuk Labor Government has been hit with a second integrity scandal after it was revealed the Premier’s right-hand man owns a company which received a $267,500 government grant.

Annastacia Palaszczuk’s chief-of-staff, David Barbagallo, is a director of Fortress Capstone Pty Ltd and one of its major shareholders.

The company received the grant from the Advance Queensland Business Development Fund to support the growth of CruiseTraka – a social media app for cruise ship passengers.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said there was a clear conflict of interest in a company owned by the most powerful man in the Palaszczuk Labor Government applying for and receiving a six-figure State Government grant.

“First we had the Deputy Premier buying up property near Cross River Rail without declaring it,” Ms Frecklington said.

“Now we have a company owned by the Premier’s chief-of-staff receiving a cheque for $267,500 from the Queensland Treasury.

“This grant does not pass the pub test. It doesn’t pass any integrity test.

“Queenslanders have a right to know why the Palaszczuk Labor Government wrote a six-figure cheque for David Barbagallo’s business.

“What integrity tests were applied – if any – and what happened to the money?”

Mr Barbagallo, who jointly owns 29.5 per cent of Fortress Capstone with his wife, became Annastacia Palaszczuk’s chief-of-staff in May 2017.

The Palaszczuk Labor Government claims that Advance Queensland grants are made to support ‘cutting-edge research, or innovative ideas, products and services’ which lead to ‘the creation of high-value, knowledge-based and skilled jobs now and into the future’.

Unlike many other Advance Queensland grant recipients, CruiseTraka’s funding was not announced to the media.

Despite being a social media company, CruiseTraka’s Facebook page has not been updated for two-and-a-half years.

It is not known how many people CruiseTraka employs, where they are employed or how many new jobs were created as a result of its Advance Queensland grant.

“These integrity questions go right into the Premier’s office,” Ms Frecklington said.

“There are a stack of questions for Annastacia Palaszczuk to answer.

“Queenslanders deserve to know what has gone on – and how their money was spent.”

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