Good governance in Queensland was being perverted by the mining industry, which showered gifts on senior bureaucrats and provided them with private jobs, President of Lock the Gate Drew Hutton said today.
Speaking outside the Senate Inquiry into the activities of the Queensland Government, where he had given evidence, Mr Hutton said the regulatory system in the Sunshine state was broken.
"Every month over the last two years, while Queensland agencies have been assessing new coal and gas projects, their senior managers have also been accepting gifts and attending functions with the companies that own those projects,” Mr Hutton said.
"On 24 occasions in the last two years, mining companies have treated senior Queensland public servants in agencies that assess, oversee or monitor mining projects to private dinners or tickets to corporate boxes at football matches.
“Bureaucrats that have accepted these gifts include high-ranking officials from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Gasfields Commissioners, and the Department of State Development Infrastructure.
"We have also identified a list of 18 high-ranking staff who have moved directly from roles in the mining industry to high level roles in the Qld Government, or vice versa, without any cooling off period. This includes a number of high-ranking staff from the Coordinator-Generals office - the authority in charge of approving mining developments.
"Is it any wonder that the community has lost faith in the Qld Government management of mining? It is a broken system that is rife for misuse and the peddling of undue influence".
Mr Hutton said that despite attempts by the Liberal National Party to turn today’s Senate Inquiry hearing into a circus the voices of ordinary Queenslanders were still being heard.
He gave evidence to the inquiry on political donations, questionable approvals for coal seam gas projects and on changes to the mining laws that had further restricted the rights of communities to object to developments that impacted on their lives.
He said the senate inquiry was an important first step in exposing to public scrutiny a raft of deals, donations and mine approvals but that a more powerful investigation was need to really get to the bottom of Queensland Inc.
“The inquiry will give us the opportunity to highlight some dodgy deals but it wont get to the bottom of what has really been going on,” Mr Hutton said.
“What we really need is a Royal Commission into how the regulatory system in Queensland is broken and to investigate whether there has been official misconduct by government officials in the approvals and enforcement of conditions for mining projects.
A compilation of the relevant items in the gift register can be provided on request.
Further information: Drew Hutton 0428 487 110
Carmel Flint 0400 521 474