Moreton Bay centre ‘a political football’


Moreton Bay centre ‘a political football’

By Kym Agius, AAPUpdated April 2, 2013, 6:44 pm



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Queensland Communities Minister Tracy Davis has defended her handling of an alleged scandal involving a community association linked to suspended MP Scott Driscoll.

The Regional Community Association of Moreton Bay (RCAMB) said on Tuesday it was planning to go into liquidation.

Mr Driscoll, a Liberal National Party (LNP) MP, is facing a raft of allegations.

The worst claim is that he secretly controlled the association while he was an MP and funnelled $120,000 in consulting fees to his wife’s company, Norsefire.

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said Ms Davis had the power to order a forensic audit of the association’s books but had sat on her hands for two weeks.

Ms Palaszczuk wants Ms Davis to resign.

“This minister is incompetent, or maybe they are looking at protecting the member for Redcliffe (Mr Driscoll),” Ms Palaszczuk said.

But Ms Davis said the government had already appointed an auditor.

She accused Ms Palaszczuk of being out of touch and using the association as a political football.

“Whilst Ms Palaszczuk has had her head buried in the sand, this government has been getting on with the job of ensuring there is greater accountability around the use of taxpayer funds,” she said.

Ms Davis said she found out late on Thursday that the association was in a dire financial position and couldn’t meet its obligations.

She had created a contingency plan and directed funding to a local neighbourhood centre, so services could continue.

The taxpayer-funded RCAMB assists the community by providing counselling, emergency assistance and other services to residents.

Its board says it owes about $295,000, including unpaid contract money from the state and federal governments.

It needs about $68,000 to meet all current creditors.

It claims it could pay debts if the government released funding it owes but has held back since complaints about Mr Driscoll were made to the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC).

Ms Palaszczuk said Ms Davis could authorise state payments, so staff could be paid and community service work could continue.

The board, in its letter to media outlets on Tuesday, also lashed out at the “anonymous complaints” made against it.

“Any such complaints are entirely baseless,” it said.

The board maintains it fully audited financials at all times and has endured “false, misleading and malicious attacks” for the past 12 months.

“The organisation has been caught up in a political witch-hunt because of its association with the local member of parliament,” it says.

“The direct result of this is now the closure of a great local community organisation.”
Mr Driscoll has vigorously denied all allegations made against him.

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