This proves Qld’s dark days of corruption have returned

IT'S a pity legendary Queensland corruption buster Tony Fitzgerald chooses to maintain his silence on political matters these days.

The gravitas Mr Fitzgerald QC earned in the wake of his landmark inquiry into police and political wrongdoing in the 1980s afforded him a unique voice of influence in this state.

His most compelling contribution during his post-inquiry years came in 2009 on the 20th anniversary of his report when he warned the state's "dark days" of corruption would return if ethical standards continued to decline.

"Access can now be purchased, patronage is dispensed, mates and supporters are appointed and retired politicians exploit their political connections to obtain success fees for deals between business and government," he said.

Tony Fitzgerald’s role in busting corruption in Queensland has made him an influential figure.
Tony Fitzgerald’s role in busting corruption in Queensland has made him an influential figure.

After years of obfuscation and denials of a problem, then premier Anna Bligh was forced to undertake significant electoral reforms, which included banning Labor using so-called cash-for-access meetings between business and ministers.

Today, The Courier-Mail reports on the cash spilling into the coffers of major parties through cash-for-access fundraising.

Clearly Mr Fitzgerald's fearsome reputation meant more to Anna Bligh than Annastacia Palaszczuk because this dodgy technique was stopped under the former premier and revived by her successor.

Meanwhile, the LNP, which has never been enamoured by Mr Fitzgerald, never stopped.

Just the optics of a business being able to buy access to the government minister of their choice is bad enough. But the corruption risk is clearly apparent, as numerous ethicists have observed. However, it would be foolhardy to expect any kind of moral leadership on such issues from the Palaszczuk government given its record.

It radically altered Queensland's electoral landscape last term by killing off this state's popular "Just Vote 1" laws in an effort to garner more Greens preferences.

It followed that up this term with a financial gerrymander that Joh Bjelke-Petersen would have been proud of by banning developer donations even though there was no evidence of undue influence by the sector in the state arena.

And next came caps on donations and electoral expenditure when Labor was spooked by billionaire Clive Palmer's supposed influence on the federal election.

Yet the government continues to feather the nests of unions which fund its elections in myriad dubious ways yet few of the so-called independent observers take issue with it. The dark days Mr Fitzgerald warned about may actually be back already.


NO BETTER PLACE FOR QANTAS THAN QUEENSLAND

Plans by Qantas to relocate and consolidate its corporate headquarters will provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Queensland to cement its place as the nation's aviation powerhouse.

The Flying Kangaroo's move to relocate its Qantas and Jetstar headquarters from Sydney and Melbourne puts about 6000 high-paying aviation jobs up for grabs.

Its revelation will create a bidding war between eastern states desperate to host the Qantas behemoth. But there is no place better-suited for Qantas, which launched in Longreach on November 16, 1920, to base its operations than Queensland.

Our 20-year partnership with Virgin Australia proves we are serious about building and growing the aviation industry.

Virgin grew from one route, two planes and 200 people to become the nation's second-largest carrier flying 133 aircraft to 466 destinations with 10,500 staff before COVID-19.

Boeing Australia, global aviation manufacturer Boeing's largest footprint outside the United States, is also based in Brisbane.

Our decentralised geography demands a strong and competitive national aviation industry and Qantas won't find a better place to base its COVID-19 recovery than Queensland.

Queensland's decision-makers should do everything in their power to facilitate the economic and jobs boon which would accompany a Qantas homecoming.

The Qantas relocation plan must be treated with caution, however. Let's hope it has not been floated to simply secure incentives from cash-strapped governments while secretly planning to remain in Sydney.

Responsibility for election comment is taken by Chris Jones, corner of Mayne Rd & Campbell St, Bowen Hills, Qld 4006. Printed and published by NEWSQUEENSLAND (ACN 009 661 778). Contact details are available at www.couriermail.com.au/help/contact-us

Originally published as This proves Qld's dark days of corruption have returned



Rocky manager to spruik Queensland produce

Premium Content Rocky manager to spruik Queensland produce

Teys Australia’s Wasantha Mudannayake has been named Queensland’s seventeenth...

CQUniversity and businesses network for economic recovery

Premium Content CQUniversity and businesses network for economic recovery

The university’s Reset and Recovery with Impact project will establish business...

LETTERS: thanks for Miners Memorial Day

Premium Content LETTERS: thanks for Miners Memorial Day

Harry’s view on the mice plague, Letters to the Editor and SMS to the Editor