Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has rejected claims from Senator Larissa Waters he tried to get the CMC to drop an environmental complaint.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has shrugged off a Greens senator’s suggestion that he tried to pressure the state’s watchdog into dropping an environmental complaint.
Queenslander Larissa Waters told federal parliament on Wednesday that complaints had been made to the state’s Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) about the environmental assessment process for two coal seam gas projects.
She said the complaints made in February 2013 related to Queensland Gas Company (QGC) and Santos projects in Queensland’s west and associated export terminals near the Port of Gladstone.
“Those complaints alleged that undue pressure had been placed on departmental staff by senior public servants and by the CSG companies,” Senator Waters told parliament.
The senator cited a ministerial diary showing that Mr Newman met the chair and deputy chair of the CMC the day after the complaints were received, adding the watchdog dropped its investigation in September 2013 without offering an adequate explanation.
But Mr Newman said he was the one who reported the concerns – about approval processes under the former Labor government – to the CMC in the first place.
“So I’m feeling very comfortable that I did the right thing,” Mr Newman told reporters on Thursday.
“The CMC then did their job and Senator Waters really needs to go and look at the facts.”
Agriculture Minister John McVeigh also leapt to Mr Newman’s defence, accusing Ms Waters of concocting a conspiracy theory.
In her speech, Senator Waters claimed the CMC’s acting chair Ken Levy was too close to the Newman government.
She also said the director-general of the premier’s department, Jon Grayson, owned a 25 per cent stake in a CSG services company.
Mr Newman’s chief of staff, Ben Myers, who was also present at that February 2013 meeting, had previously worked for QGC also, she said.
The CMC later issued a statement saying Mr Newman’s meetings with the watchdog’s chair and deputy chair were not related to the complaints.
The commission said it could not find any evidence of official misconduct and there was no need for further investigation.