Shock new accusations made against Robert Schwarten
FORMER Queensland Housing Minister Robert Schwarten has rejected sensational new allegations raised under parliamentary privilege yesterday by Shadow Housing Minister Michael Hart.
Mr Hart accused the former ALP Rockhampton MP of accepting undeclared favours and gifts from Geoff Murphy, whose company, JM Kelly received hundreds of millions of dollars in government contracts.
Mr Hart has accused Mr Schwarten of making numerous trips to rugby league matches in a private jet owned by Mr Murphy.
Mr Schwarten late yesterday said he had never been to a football game on Mr Murphy's plane and that the only time he had flown on the jet was to return to Rockhampton on a Friday night from a Master Builder's meeting.
He rejected Mr Hart's allegations as "a complete and utter fabrication".
"There's not one word of truth in it and I ask him if he's so fair dinkum about it why doesn't he say it outside the parliament where I can get within his reach legally.
"I want to know why he didn't refer me to the CCC if I'm such a criminal.
"I had to refer myself. I'm as worried about all this as I am about failing my rocket ship test pilot exam."
Mr Murphy was in 2016 excluded by the QBCC for three years from being a person of influence in the construction industry following the collapse of JM Kelly Project Builders.
The Palaszczuk Government then transferred 21 contracts it had with Project Builders to an associated company JM Kelly Builders run by Mr Murphy's son John.
That company also went into liquidation in October last year owing hundreds of sub-contactors and other unsecured creditors millions of dollars.
Citing information he said had received from people in central Queensland Mr Hart told the house Mr Schwarten's long-term friendship with Geoff Murphy was so strong that his farewell function at the Rockhampton Showgrounds - which was attended by hundreds of people, was apparently paid for by JM Kelly.
"I have been told Geoff Murphy rang business people in Rockhampton asking them to donate $5000 a head to Rob Schwarten as a "farewell" gift.
Mr Schwarten last week denied he had ever taken a cent from anyone, revealing he had self-reported himself to the CCC following earlier allegations raised by Mr Hart in Parliament in November.
He also stepped aside as board member of construction industry regulator, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission.
Mr Hart told Parliament Mr Schwarten was the "responsible" Minister for the Labor Government's Cool Schools program alleging contracts were limited to a select group of contractors with the people who controlled that process receiving kickbacks.
"Further allegations have been received that a Superintendent at the Rockhampton Hospital, was providing inside information on plans and costings to JM Kelly, thereby, giving them an unfair advantage in its tendering processes," he said.
"More recently it's been alleged that Schwarten visited JM Kelly offices in Rockhampton in the days leading up to the company being put into liquidation.
"You have (to) ask, is that appropriate as a board member of the QBCC, at a time when the company was under investigation, and what was discussed.
"I note Mr Schwarten has self-referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission. As it has now been approximately six weeks, and I haven't been contacted by the CCC I won't be waiting to see if an investigation is proceeding.
"Instead, I would like to assure this House, the subcontractors, and the people of Queensland that I will be making a submission to the CCC containing the details of the emails, interviews and phone calls, I have conducted, within the next few days.
"I hope that with the special powers, and resources available to this agency, it will be possible to shine a light on dark clouds that hang over Mr Schwarten."
Mr Schwarten said he had no idea of what Mr Hart was speaking about in relation to the Cool Schools and Rockhampton Hospital allegations.
He said he did visit JM Kelly offices immediately before it went into liquidation.
"I went to - and my credit card will show this - to Queensland Windows on the Monday before they went into liquidation, and ordered and paid for $250 worth of mirrored glass, which I never got," he said.
"I paid for them on Monday and on Tuesday morning, Grant Cassidy rang me and told me JM Kelly had gone into liquidation.
"Then I rang Murphy and asked him if it was the case and he told me it was then gave me an earful about the QBCC, but that's separate to that.
"I didn't get the windows and I didn't get my money back. I will provide that to the CCC as well.
"I challenge him (Mr Hart) to say this outside the parliament.
"There's no truth in any of it. I'll be referring all of this to the CCC."