Lock the Gate Alliance has called for the urgent initiation of a Crime and Corruption Commission inquiry into links between political donations and mining approvals, after news that the Electoral Commission of Queensland was seeking Crown law advice over $100,000 in "secret" donations to the LNP.
The group’s president, Drew Hutton said incoming Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, wrote to the Member for Nicklin, Peter Wellington in February this year, assuring him that:
“Labor will hold a public enquiry into links, if any, between donations to political parties and the awarding of tenders, contracts and approvals. The anti-corruption watchdog has the powers of standing royal commission and will be able to thoroughly investigate these issues.”
However, no such public enquiry has commenced, despite the fact that a decision is due next week on the controversial Acland Stage 3 coal mine expansion on the Darling Downs, which is mired in a $950,000 political donations scandal which engulfed the former Newman Government.
"We're pleased to see the Queensland Electoral Commission following up on $100,000 in secret donations, but we'd like to know what the State Government is doing about its promise of a public inquiry into far larger sums donated in the last term of government with possible links to mining processes,” Mr Hutton said.
"The clock is ticking on the contentious Acland Stage 3 coal mine expansion, with a decision due on the Environmental Authority by next Thursday, and yet this very important inquiry which may shed light on the Acland approval process has not yet commenced.
"Concerns arise from the fact that the LNP had promised before the 2012 election to reject the Acland mine expansion, but after the Federal Party received almost a million dollars in donations from an associated company, it changed its tune.
"The Queensland ALP Government came to power promising a new era of transparency and accountability, and the promised CCC inquiry should be the centrepiece of that.
"We're calling for the urgent commencement of a public CCC inquiry into any links between political donations and approvals in the last term of government, and the postponement of a decision on the Acland coal expansion until such an inquiry is completed.
"The people of the Darling Downs deserve nothing less."
- Soul Pattinson, a parent company of the proponent of Acland Stage 3 (New Hope Coal) donated around $950,000 to the Federal Liberal Party during the term of the Newman Government, raising questions about the probity of the decision-making process.
- New Hope is also the proponent of a second mine, the Colton coal mine near Maryborough, which was also apparently fast-tracked in the last year of the Newman Government.