Vaughan Johnson, the LNP Member for Gregory, called for an immediate Crime and Misconduct Commission inquiry into the conduct of the Rockhampton Regional Council and accused it of misappropriating state and federal grants.
Vaughan Johnson, the LNP Member for Gregory, called for an immediate Crime and Misconduct Commission inquiry into the conduct of the Rockhampton Regional Council and accused it of misappropriating state and federal grants. Vicki Wood

Mayor: MP got it wrong

A STATE MP yesterday called for an immediate Crime and Misconduct Commission inquiry into the conduct of the Rockhampton Regional Council and accused it of misappropriating state and federal grants.

Vaughan Johnson, the LNP Member for Gregory, also accused the council of illegally withholding a $750,000 bank guarantee to Bailey Civil Constructions in respect of the Capricorn Coast pipeline project and of not paying the contractor's final claim for the pipeline of $5.69 million.

Mr Johnson said the contractor paid the bank guarantee in February 2008 as security and retention for the due and proper performance of the contract.

It should have been returned 12 months after practical completion.

“Mayor Brad Carter and the CEO at the time, Alastair Dawson, reported in the council's 2009-10 annual report that the project had been completed,” he said.

Mr Johnson said if the contract had not been completed then the public and funding stakeholders had been misled and there was a strong possibility that the council had wrongfully acquired the state and federal funding for the $50 million project.

“If that is the case, the government should step in and order the return of the contractor's bank guarantee without further delay.

"This must then be followed by an immediate CMC investigation into the conduct of the council over its handling and administration of the contract and its apparent misappropriation of grant funding.

“However, if the contract is finished, the council is illegally withholding the release of the contractor's $750,000 bank guarantee purely to frustrate and antagonise the contractor while abusing and exploiting the unsuspecting ratepayers with a costly and unnecessary Supreme Court proceeding.”

He called on Premier Anna Bligh and Cr Carter to enter immediately into talks with Bailey Civil Constructions.

Mr Johnson asked how many other contractors were in the same position.

But Cr Carter said Mr Johnson should have checked his facts before making such an ill-informed attack in parliament.

“There won't be and there is no justification for a CMC investigation into the dispute the council has with this contractor,” he said.

“I am surprised Mr Johnson, who I know well, did not seek an explanation before making his ill-informed comments in parliament.

“A simple phone call to me would have given him all the answers.”

Cr Carter said the council was in conflict with the contractor and the matter was before the courts.

He was not able to comment further because there was an active legal dispute.



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