Labor’s integrity crisis spreads to ag college closures

by Ted Sorensen
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The Palaszczuk Labor Government’s integrity crisis has deepened again after it was revealed the author of a report backing the closure of Queensland agricultural colleges is a Labor Party donor.

In last night’s estimates hearing, the LNP disclosed that Professor Peter Coaldrake donated $1760 to Labor in June 2018 – just two weeks before the release of his report recommending the closure of the Emerald and Longreach colleges.*

The agriculture estimates hearing was also told that Professor Coaldrake was paid $61,600 by the Palaszczuk Labor Government for his work on the report.

LNP Shadow Agriculture Minister Tony Perrett asked Labor Agriculture Minister Mark Furner to refer the matter to the Integrity Commissioner – but Furner failed to provide a clear response.

“The closure of these colleges was an absolute disgrace and Queenslanders must be told how this shameful decision came about,” Mr Perrett said.

“This doesn’t pass the pub test. It’s another blow to the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s integrity.”

Mr Perrett said the Labor Minister’s answers were confused and contradictory.

“Minister Furner claimed that he was not aware of the donation, but then said the issue had been raised previously,” Mr Perrett said.

“He said he had spoken to the Integrity Commissioner, but didn’t say what about.

“Minister Furner doesn’t make sense most of the time, but he surpassed himself in estimates.

“It’s clear that this matter must be immediately referred to the Integrity Commissioner.

“The LNP won’t stand idly while the anti-farmer and anti-regions Palaszczuk Labor Government guts important training for the next generation of graziers and farmers.

“It’s time the Palaszczuk Labor Government came clean and admitted that this whole review and closure of the ag colleges in Longreach and Emerald stinks.

“We need an independent and full investigation into the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s dodgy decision.”

*See: https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/hansard/2019/2019_07_24_EstimatesSDC.pdf

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