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Thursday, 13 August 2009
Page: 7870


Mr RIPOLL (4:44 PM) —I want to take this opportunity to correct the record in terms of a number articles, mostly in the Australian newspaper. Its campaign of smear and slander in the past month has been based on nothing more than unrelated matters creatively weaved together by collaborators Milne, Parnell, Bita, Fraser and others into some sort of high-order conspiracy. Their claims, innuendo and allegations that there must exist a connection between a range of events—in particular the purchase of two blocks of residential land in Bowen by my wife and her two business partners, the state government and/or any Chinese mining company or interests—are completely absurd, false and silly. Claims that something must be wrong because they have limited development experience fail to take into account the partnership group having paid a specialist consultant to carry out development application and subsequent work in lieu of locality and experience. The claim that somehow the timing of the purchase must be the result of some inside knowledge is equally absurd and false. Anyone who has purchased land at any time as an investment will understand the lengthy process of consideration and the risk taken by those involved. The spurious claim that the partnership pushed through a DA with the local council is completely false. No such thing took place and the process, time and expense were as for any other application.

The private dealings of my family, all carried out properly under Australian law and declared in the Register of Members’ Interests, do not in any way equate to some misconduct or high-order conspiracy, as creatively purported by the Australian newspaper and these so-called journalists. The claim that one or both of my wife’s business partners operate a financial planning firm is false and incorrect—not that there would be anything wrong if they did or if anyone else did. It is just another part of the entertainment conspiracy created in their own minds. My wife and others formed a company called Group Four Solutions Pty Ltd, but unfortunately it was dissolved almost immediately after its creation because of the changed circumstances of one of its partners and did not trade at all. The repeated claim that a developer in my electorate has named a street after me is completely false. All the streets in that area were named exclusively by the Ipswich City Council and contain the names of every elected member in the region—hardly special treatment.

The unrelated-to-anything story written by Andrew Fraser discussing the corrupt days of Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen which begins with the detail of the land purchased by my wife and her partners is a deceptive and unprofessional attempt to lead readers into believing that somehow the two situations are similar in nature, and it is reprehensible. Nothing could be further from reality and I completely reject any inference, link or other notion bearing any resemblance to the corrupt regime of the Bjelke years. This is akin to writing about murderers and rapists and then including someone’s name in the story in an attempt to link the two by association. I find this technique, repeatedly used many times by Glenn Milne, Sean Parnell, Natasha Bita and Andrew Fraser, as completely reprehensible and the lowest form of gutter journalism. It reflects everything that is wrong with the media and the low regard the community has for it. The even lower act of then getting their mates in radio not only to repeat these falsehoods but also to invite Glenn Milne on 4BC Drive to talk about himself and promote their creative conspiracy by attacking my family is particularly out of proportion to any standards of decency or fact.

On all of the other claims of a similar nature, which I do not have time to deal with tonight, I categorically reject any of the spurious allegations, inferences, innuendo and smear as completely baseless and false. It is just fanciful journalism, more designed around entertainment and providing cover for a fractured Liberal Party than anything based in reality. Perhaps the many hard-living years in Canberra have softened the collective brain cells of these esteemed mud-slingers and creative conspirators.

Let me now turn to some interesting facts that may balance the ledger on the other side of politics, as it seems that all the attention from our friends in the media have been one-sided—and the Liberals have taken the opportunity to put in the boot with glee. Cronyism is rife within the Queensland Liberal National Party. Since being re-elected with an LNP majority in March 2008, Campbell Newman has appointed five Liberal Party hacks to Brisbane City Council board positions. These are Gary Spence, Greg Bowden, Carol Cashman, Gary Hardgrave and Rick Jefferies. The appointments of Greg Bowden, Carol Cashman, Gary Spence and Rick Jefferies were not announced publicly.

Gary Spence, former Liberal Party state president and current LNP vice-president, was re-appointed to the board of Brisbane CityWorks and additionally appointed to the City Design Advisory Board after Campbell Newman’s recent re-election. Since 2006, Mr Spence has made personal donations of $100,000 to Campbell Newman’s campaign fund, Forward Brisbane Leadership. Greg Bowden is a former advisor to the Lord Mayor and is currently the financial controller of Forward Brisbane Leadership. Mr Bowden has now been appointed to two boards, the City Business Advisory Board and Brisbane Transport Advisory Board. Again, these appointments were not announced publicly, and Mr Bowden now receives $18,500 per annum per board appointment, totalling $37,000 per year. Rounding out the board roles for mates is former member for Moreton Gary Hardgrave and former councillors Carol Cashman and Rick Jefferies. If only Malcolm Turnbull could flick a few jobs to his mates down here in Canberra his leadership would be far more secure. I leave this information for the media to digest.