Pyne dubbed a 'mouthpiece' for 'conspiracies'

16th June 2017 6:00 PM
Cairns MP Rob Pyne speaking outside the Crime and Corruption Commission. Cairns MP Rob Pyne speaking outside the Crime and Corruption Commission. Geoff Egan

AFTER launching an explosive attack on former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale on Wednesday, Cairns MP Rob Pyne has used parliamentary privilege to table more allegations of council corruption.

But Ipswich council has dubbed Mr Pyne a "political mouthpiece” peddling "conspiracy theories” that have been debunked.

Earlier this week Mr Pyne tabled documents in parliament that made a series of allegations about former mayor Paul Pisasale and the Ipswich council.

These explosive allegations included that Mr Pisasale pressured Ipswich businesses into giving him free meals, haircuts and products; he used a loophole to keep unspent election donations for himself; and that council companies were being run inappropriately.

On Friday, Mr Pyne tabled seven more documents in parliament. Three related to Ipswich council, three to Logan council and one explaining how lawyer for councillors and mayors called to give evidence at the Crime and Corruption Committee were paid.

But Ipswich City Council has returned fire, dubbing Mr Pyne the "political mouthpiece” looking to "disrupt the upcoming mayoral election”.

Mr Pisasale has not responded to requests for comment on the issue.

Mr Pyne's second dirt file has claimed a council-run koala charity was paid millions but never carried out what it was meant to do.

The document claims Cherish the Environment was paid more than $3 million to retain koala habitats as well as further payments from the council. It claims Queensland Rail paid the charity to plant 22,500 trees for koalas, but the trees were never planted.

The document, from a person calling themselves "Ipswich constituent”, alleges the charity held no meetings and employed no staff, but had paid about $473,000 in payments to "suppliers and employees” in 2015 and 2016.

Another document from the Ipswich Ratepayers and Residents Association complains about the Ipswich City Council's lack of action over smells from the New Chum dumps and the nature of development in Springfield and Ripley.

A third was immediately removed from parliament as it related to an ongoing court case.

A council spokesman said the claims were clearly false.

"For the second time this week Rob Pyne has been used as a political mouthpiece by former failed council candidates and a handful of others to disrupt the upcoming by-election for Ipswich mayor,” the spokesman said.

"Just one example highlights their inaccuracies. Claims of 36 koalas in the whole of Ipswich are simply wrong.

"There are an estimated 3000-4000 koalas. This number is backed by the long-standing and well regarded Ipswich Koala Protection Society based on wide area surveys undertaken in February 2016 by Bussey and Ellis for Lock the Gate.

"The claim about koalas and the myriad of conspiracy theories has been the calling card of this small group before, during and after the local government election last year.”

Mr Pyne has faced a barrage of criticism over his use of parliamentary privilege to table documents to avoid potential defamation.

Acting Ipswich mayor Paul Tully called on Mr Pyne to resign and Local Government Association of Queensland chief Greg Hallam said he was a "disgrace”.

Mr Pyne took to Twitter on Friday to defend his actions: "Tully and Hallam were incorrect in their comments today. Wrong & rude but I don't care, that is just the cut and thrust of politics,” he said.

- NewsRegional