Clive Palmer says his party’s push for a Senate probe into Queensland’s LNP government is about safeguarding the rights of voters.
Clive Palmer says his party’s push for an inquiry into the Newman government is about protecting the rights of Queenslanders, not political payback.
The federal MP for the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax says the Senate inquiry, if it gets up, will examine the administration of justice in the state.
It will also investigate how the Newman government has spent federal funds, how prisons are administered, the appointment of senior officials and possible conflicts of interest.
Mr Palmer says there’s deep concern that the LNP state government isn’t respecting the principle of the separation of powers.
He says there’s broad opposition in legal circles to the recent appointment of Tim Carmody as chief justice.
Serving and retired judges have criticised the appointment and the process that surrounded it, as has the Queensland Bar Association.
Mr Carmody’s critics have accused him of being too close to the government and lacking the experience for the job.
“It’s really an inquiry into justice because there’s been a lot of disquiet by the Queensland Law Society and the bar association about the administration of justice in Queensland and justice affects all of us,” Mr Palmer told Fairfax radio on Thursday.
“So it’s a question to see whether we have got that critical separation of powers which binds our democracy.”
Mr Palmer said a federal inquiry was needed because Queensland lacked an upper house, but admitted it may not even get off the ground.
The Palmer party will have to secure Labor support for the Senate probe to go ahead.
Mr Palmer also denied it was the next step in his bitter war with Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney and the Liberal National Party he once so generously funded.
“It’s not a question of Campbell Newman. He’s not very important; neither is Mr Seeney or any of those people. But what is important is the people of Queensland, that they get a fair go.”
Mr Newman refused to comment on the inquiry push and whether it was part of a personal vendetta by Mr Palmer.
“We’re not going to get distracted by the antics of the Labor party and Mr Palmer,” he told reporters.
PUP senator Glenn Lazarus will move in the Senate on Thursday to set up a select committee to examine the Queensland government.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society said it would welcome a Senate inquiry into whether the mining industry had too much influence over the Queensland government.
“The Newman government is fast-tracking major port expansion along the reef and this has been primarily driven by the mining sector,” spokeswoman Felicity Wishart said.
She also wants to examine whether the government has a conflict of interest when it comes to approving developments.
“The Queensland government owns the ports and at the same time it is the state government that gives approvals for things like dredging and dumping,” Ms Wishart told AAP.
Queensland’s opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk wouldn’t say if she supported the Palmer inquiry.
She said she hadn’t spoken to her federal Labor colleagues about whether they would support it.
Shadow treasurer Curtis Pitt said a Senate inquiry might force the premier to give answers to the kinds of questions asked at this week’s budget estimates hearings.
“If Campbell Newman is unwilling to answer questions here in estimates in Queensland, perhaps the only way to get him to answer any questions, maybe, is to have a Senate inquiry, if in fact it goes ahead.”