Queensland Premier Campbell Newman says he wasn’t aware a company awarded a contract to run a juvenile bootcamp was a coalition donor.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman says he didn’t know a company awarded a contract to run a juvenile bootcamp against the wishes of a departmental advisory panel was a coalition donor.
Mr Newman has been forced to defend the lucrative contract in parliament after it emerged the chief executive of the winning company Beyond Billabong later donated money to the party.
Beyond Billabong’s $5500 payment was recorded by the Electoral Commission Queensland in August 2013.
When asked by Labor’s Bill Byrne whether he’d launch an inquiry, Mr Newman said the donation in question was to the federal party.
“We declared it in this jurisdiction, but it was for the federal campaign … a federal member’s campaign,” Mr Newman said.
“The attorney-general (Jarrod Bleijie) and I don’t have any knowledge what that was about.”
Beyond Billabong said the donation was proceeds from a dinner, attended by its chief executive Boyd Curran, where former prime minister John Howard was a guest speaker.
The insinuation that Mr Curran’s attendance at the event was in some way connected with the awarding of the contract was unfounded and incorrect, it said.
The bootcamp, on a remote station two hours west of Ingham, was set up by Beyond Billabong in January after a Kuranda-based camp closed when its first two residents escaped and threatened staff with a knife.
The contract was awarded despite an advisory panel recommending the company not be shortlisted because its submission lacked information and would cost more than double that of its competitors.
Mr Bleijie overrode the advice of the panel after the director-general of the justice department also voiced dissatisfaction with the panel’s proposal.
“I didn’t want a repeat of what happened in Cairns (Kuranda),” Mr Bleijie said.
Mr Bleijie also defended the cost of the contract, saying Beyond Billabong tendered for a super bootcamp, taking in juveniles from the Cairns and Townsville regions.
And it could offer services other tenderers couldn’t, he said.
“Clearly the evaluation team got it wrong,” Mr Bleijie said.
“We had to have someone with experience and ability to go out bush to run a bootcamp.”
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk called for better scrutiny of all government contracts.
“`Don’t you worry about that’. We’ve all heard that phrase before,” she said.