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Queensland Opposition accused of abusing taxp -

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Queensland Opposition accused of abusing taxpayers' money

Charlotte Glennie reported this story on Monday, August 3, 2009 12:34:00

ELEANOR HALL: To Queensland now where corruption continues to dominate the headlines. Premier Anna
Bligh is trying to take the heat out of the issue by banning her MPs from attending party
fundraisers with business people.

Her popularity has taken a dive since prominent anticorruption QC Tony Fitzgerald last week warned
that cronyism is still rife in Queensland.

The State Opposition says there should be another royal commission but the Government is now
accusing the LNP leader of abusing taxpayer funds.

Charlotte Glennie reports from Brisbane.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Queensland's Opposition leader John-Paul Langbroek is starting a new promotional
campaign - with large billboards displaying his photo, going up around Brisbane.

JOHN-PAUL LANGBROEK: This is expenditure that has come out of the leader of the Opposition's budget
and it's been okayed by the Premier's own department.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: But after with a week of controversy swirling around links between business and
the Queensland Government - these are sensitive times in state politics - and the Treasurer Andrew
Fraser is accusing Mr Langbroek of abusing taxpayers' money.

ANDREW FRASER: Taxpayers are meeting the cost of these blatantly political billboards. He's says
that they have been approved, they are outside the guidelines. They haven't been approved and they
won't be approved.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: The Queensland Government is putting pressure on the State Opposition in other
ways too, with Premier Anna Bligh calling on John-Paul Langbroek to follow her lead and ban LNP
members from attending fundraising events with business people.

Ms Bligh is also one of three federal ALP presidents and she says there is good reason to see
tougher rules regarding cash for access adopted nationally.

ANNA BLIGH: There is no doubt that the public concerns about this do not stop at the Queensland
border. My view is that over the next couple of years we are likely to see, or at least the next 12
months, a very strong public debate about some of these issues.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Ms Bligh has harsh words for some lobbyists as well.

ANNA BLIGH: If there is a lobbyist out there telling you that you need their services to do
business with my Government, they are lying to you. They are lying to you because they are trying
to make money out of you. Don't believe them.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: But the Queensland opposition has reservations about Anna's Bligh's decision.
Here's LNP state president Bruce McIver.

BRUCE MCIVER: I think any party other than Labor would be hurt very badly. We all know that Labor's
main source of income would then be the union movement and is she talking of banning Labor
ministers from attending fundraisers of the union movement as well because otherwise it wouldn't be
seen to be correct. It's a diversionary tactic from the real issues that are faced in Queensland.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: And political analyst Paul Williams from Griffith University says the ban is
mainly about appearances.

PAUL WILLIAMS: At this point it doesn't look like the idea is to ban these dinners altogether or to
ban these contributions. Banning one's ministers or MPs from attending seems to be more cosmetic
than real - to try and quell the perception that ministers are mingling with business folk when
ordinary voters don't get an opportunity because they can't afford the large sums for the
fundraiser.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: The claims of impropriety aren't going away either. The Premer's chief of staff
and two government ministers are the latest to be accused of inappropriate dealings over a Sunshine
Coast resort development currently being considered by Government.

State Treasurer Andrew Fraser is defending their actions.

ANDREW FRASER: To be really clear on that matter, Minister Hinchliffe had a previous role in
lobbying. Minister Boyle did not. Minister Hinchliffe therefore, properly, stood aside from
decision making. Therefore he dealt with that previous issue by standing aside, by having the
decision making in this, on that issue transferred to another minister and the decisions to be
taken by the Cabinet without him being present.

That is appropriate in the circumstances. There is nothing untoward about ministers meeting about
developments. That is what happens when business propositions are put forward. To suggest that
government should never ever, ever meet with any business about any issue is absurd.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Premier Anna Bligh's popularity has taken a major hit in the last week with
polls revealing nearly two-thirds of Queenslanders believe corruption and cronyism are widespread
in her Government.

Here are some of them on their way to work this morning.

VOX POP: They are servants of the public. They are servants of Queensland so therefore they should
be available to talk to anyone and everyone.

VOX POP 2: I think what should happen, all political donations, no matter where they come from, go
into a pool and then they just be divided up.

VOX POP 3: I would think that, yeah, it should be all taxpayer funded and not influenced by big
business.

ELEANOR HALL: Charlotte Glennie reporting.