Thursday, 29 September 2016

The perception of Coalition corruption and rorting continues to grow.......

The longer this generation of Liberal and Nationals politicians hold sway at either state or federal level the more apparent it becomes that they have little to no understanding of business ethics or civic responsibility, nor any regard for the damage that even a perception of a conflict of interest can do to the level of public trust in political institutions.

Here is yet another example……

ABC News, 22 September 2016:
John Cotter Jnr.

A company run by prominent Queensland Liberal National Party members was part of a consortium awarded $3 million under a federal infrastructure program, the ABC can reveal.
The money is for a feasibility study for the proposed Urannah Dam in north Queensland.

The $3 million was secured by a consortium that was made up of the community group, Bowen Collinsville Enterprise Inc, and the Brisbane-based venture capital group, Initiative Capital.

Initiative Capital is owned by its chief executive John Cotter Jr and its executive director Gerard Paynter, who say the bid was made through an independent and transparent assessment process, with all funds to be managed by the state.

But the Queensland Government has told the ABC successful funding bids were selected by the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and that the Urannah Dam was not even listed as a state priority.

The $3 million for the Urannah Dam study came from National Water Infrastructure Development Fund. The fund called for applications late last year, with a panel of technical experts assessing the bids.

But the fund guidelines state "the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources [Barnaby Joyce] will be the final decision-maker".

John Cotter Jr is a member of the powerful Queensland LNP state executive and a regional party chair.

LNP sources said he was heavily involved in fundraising at all levels of the party.

When asked by the ABC about fundraising and his roles with the LNP, Mr Cotter said he was not allowed to comment.

"I can only confirm I am [an LNP] member," he said.

But a spokesman for the Queensland LNP confirmed Mr Cotter was on the state executive.

His partner in Initiative Capital, Gerard Paynter, is the Queensland managing director of LNP-aligned lobbying firm Barton Deakin.

Its website describes him as "an experienced Liberal National Party figure having been a Queensland and Federal Young Liberal president and a member of the Queensland state executive for five years".

It says he also has extensive experience in managing LNP state and federal campaigns, including holding a "central campaign role within the LNP for the 2013 federal election".

Mr Paynter told the ABC he did not hold any executive positions within the LNP.

He did not respond to follow up questions……..

The Australian, 27 July 2013:

MEMBERS of Queensland's GasFields Commission and their families enjoy lucrative financial interests in the state's controversial coal-seam gas industry that endanger the statutory body's independence, landholders and activists claim.

The commission, an election commitment by Campbell Newman's Liberal National Party, purports to promote sustainable co-existence between CSG miners and farmers - but critics say it is captive to industry……

Mr Clapham said landholders were concerned about the commissioners' links to gas companies. "To many people it appears the commission is there to facilitate the industry, not to even up the power imbalances. It's there to grease the wheels of the industry," he said.

The son of commission chairman John Cotter is the founder and major shareholder of a Brisbane-based consultancy that has close links to the British-owned Queensland Gas Company, one of four firms developing the state's $65 billion CSG industry.

John Cotter Jr's Flinders Group is involved in the $100 million construction of a jetty at Curtis Island at Gladstone, from where exports of liquid natural gas will begin next year. The Flinders Group has also advised resource firms, including QGC, on accessing land in more than 10 major projects, involving agreements with 1000 landholders.

Mr Cotter Jr said he no longer dealt directly with landowners because of his father's commissioner role and the group had created "Chinese walls" to avoid potential conflicts.

Activist Drew Hutton said the Flinders Group "scopes areas where coal-seam gas companies might need to target properties for gas wells and other infrastructure".

This was in direct conflict with Mr Cotter Sr's role in assisting farmers in dealing with mining companies, he said. "It's another case of where the Queensland government has structured things so landholders are disadvantaged against the might of the coal-seam gas companies."

Mr Cotter Sr, a grazier at Goomeri northwest of Brisbane, said he had no role in his son's business…..

Following closely on the heels of John Cotter Jnr's latest issue came this report in The Age on 26 September 2016:

A Turnbull government MP is facing questions over a series of taxpayer funded travel claims, including more than $2000 for flights to his own wedding in Melbourne.

Western Australian Liberal MP Steve Irons charged taxpayers travel costs of $1346 for a flight on October 18, 2011, three days before he was married at Melbourne's Crown Casino.

The West Australian reported on Monday that following the October 21 ceremony, Mr Irons charged taxpayers $911 for a return flight to Perth on October 25.

The Swan MP said the money had been repaid to the Department of Finance after "a self-audit" of travel expenses in his office.

Mr Irons' wife Cheryle was a Melbourne-based real estate agent at the time of the couple's wedding.
The revelations come days after it was reported that he had also used taxpayer funds to pay for flights to a Gold Coast golf tournament in December 2015.

Mr Irons said he studied golf tourism opportunities at the first stage of the International Team Challenge, after being invited to attend by the Australian PGA.

As chair of the parliamentary friends of sport group, Mr Irons said the trip had not broken any rules on taxpayer funded travel, despite it being claimed as "electorate business".

The December trip included a $258 bill to taxpayers for three nights' travel allowance in Coolangatta and $1875 for a flight from Brisbane to Perth.

A further flight cost is expected to be reported in future releases from the Department of Finance.

Mr Iron's office did not respond to requests for comment…..

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