The Palmer United Party is facing an ethics committee probe over allegations it tried to bribe a Qld MP to switch parties.
The Palmer United Party is being investigated over an allegation it tried to bribe a Queensland government backbencher to quit the Liberal National Party.
Speaker Fiona Simpson says an alleged attempt by a Palmer party envoy to induce Burleigh MP Michael Hart to jump ship was “sufficiently serious” to warrant an ethics committee investigation.
The party’s Queensland leader Alex Douglas, who headed state parliament’s ethics committee in 2012, was unable to comment specifically on Mr Hart’s allegation.
But the former LNP member said the Palmer party had obeyed the law.
“I can only generally comment that we refute any views that we are involved in inducements,” he told AAP.
Mr Hart last month went to police saying a PUP member – later revealed to be Jim McNally – had called him about switching parties.
He said he terminated the phone call when he came to the view he was about to be offered an inappropriate inducement.
While police declined to take his complaint further, Ms Simpson said the matter was “sufficiently serious to be considered by the ethics committee”.
“The offering or attempting to offer an inducement to a member, to achieve an outcome that affects the proceedings in the Legislative Assembly, can amount to contempt,” she told parliament on Tuesday.
“I am satisfied there is an issue of privilege.”
Mr Hart used parliamentary privilege two weeks ago to accuse the Palmer party of offering him an inducement to change parties.
Party founder Clive Palmer has previously denied any inducement was ever offered by his party.
“They were having a discussion and he (Mr McNally) said, ‘What will it take to have you join the Palmer United Party?’,” Mr Palmer said earlier this month.
“He was referring to, ‘Would you want to be endorsed for the seat of Burleigh?’ He wasn’t offering anyone anything. He wasn’t authorised to do that. He’s not an official of our party. He’s just a party member.”