Mr PERRETT (Gympie—LNP) (2.48 pm): The Premier claims she was unaware Professor Peter
Coaldrake had donated to the Labor Party. The Premier might be unaware, but several ministers should
have been aware. The agricultural minister was aware. Several Labor backbenchers should have been
aware. I have raised it several times in the parliament. Everyone concerned with the outrageous closure
of agricultural colleges knows Professor Coaldrake is a Labor donor. He donated $1,760 in June 2018—
just two weeks before delivering his controversial report recommending closing the Emerald and
Longreach agricultural colleges. He was paid $61,600 for the politically motivated report to justify their
closure and the subsequent asset sale of Emerald college’s Berrigurra property for $32.5 million.
I raised concerns about the donation during estimates in July 2019. I specifically asked Minister
Furner about it. Labor’s committee chair tried to block my question. It was raised again in the
committee’s report. It was reported in the Brisbane media and across regional Queensland. I asked the
director-general about Professor Coaldrake’s remuneration. I was told the procurement process was
undertaken by the Department of the Premier and Cabinet. It appears no-one checks on potential
conflicts or seeks the advice of the Integrity Commissioner.
When asked, Minister Furner said he was not aware of the donation, but then said, ‘The matter
was well ventilated in the media.’ Mr Furner knew, but the Premier did not. I asked Mr Furner if he would
raise the potential conflict of interest with the Integrity Commissioner. The minister said, ‘I have recently
consulted the Integrity Commissioner,’ but did not say about what. It is an indictment on the lack of
concern about integrity that the minister then said, ‘I am not certain what the member for Gympie is
alluding to.’ Perhaps the minister was waiting for instructions.
At the time the government was facing scandals over the private business deals of the Deputy
Premier and the Premier’s right-hand man, David Barbagallo. On another occasion, the Premier voted
in the chamber only a few minutes after I twice raised it. That was only two years ago in February 2020.
Several ministers were in the House, yet the Premier heard nothing. No-one saw a problem with the
donation and the commissioning of a report to justify the closure of those colleges. They see nothing,
hear nothing and know nothing. It does not wash. The shameful decision to close the colleges was
rubber stamped by the same Labor donor and supporter who will now conduct just the latest review the
Premier has announced.
The Premier said she is confident that he, Professor Coaldrake, ‘will do a thorough and effective
job now.’ After the hit job on the agricultural colleges, they are ominous words. There is a stench around
this government. So far integrity, accountability and transparency look dead.