Queensland Nickel exposing political corruption
Queensland Nickel CEO, local Townsville resident and Queensland’s richest person, Mr Clive Palmer has laid the blame for Townsville’s poor economic performance squarely at the feet of the Labor Mayor Jenny Hill and the leadership of the Townsville City Council during a $15,000 community funding announcement for the NQ Brolgas Women’s Indigenous football team.
Mr. Palmer also said, “we have access to billions of dollars which should be invested in Townsville”.
Mr. Palmer said in reference to Jenny Hill that he is “sick of politicians talking bull*hit”. Mr. Palmer also said, “we have access to billions of dollars which should be invested in Townsville”.
Reflecting on the moment Mr. Palmer flew in his private jet over Townsville, he observed: “you realise how incompetent this council has been”. Mr. Palmer said there is no confidence and no industrial leadership in Townsville.
While the Townsville Mayor has been forced to issue a public apology and pay undisclosed compensation for defaming Mr. Palmer for false and damaging statements, the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) of which Mayor Jenny Hill is a member, has called for more politically controlled “special purpose” corporations to be established to stimulate development and economic growth without community representation by councillors on the boards.
Billions ready for immediate injection by Queensland Nickel
With the LGAQ encouraging more “council-controlled enterprise” corporations to facilitate private investment and development by local councils, serious questions by the community and accountability in the courts of the existing Labor party politicians are set to intensify as Queensland Nickel’s CEO confirmed billions in private investment is ready for immediate injection into the local economy.
But the politically controlled and State-owned Townsville Port corporation, as well as the Labor Mayor, federal and state Labor MP’s, have not welcomed Mr. Palmer’s pledge of billions in direct capital investment.
The LGAQ’s public undertaking for better accountability, openness and transparency is exposing a double standard within the LGAQ’s public undertaking and constituent councillors such as Jenny Hill.
The perception of inconsistency and one set of rules for politicians and the bureaucratic elite and another for the private sector goes to the heart of the cultural observations by the CCC of local and state governments.
Crime and Misconduct Commision channelling Palmer allegations
Ironically, Mr. Palmer’s observation of the Townsville leadership is consistent with the CCC observation as far its extraordinary investigation of the use of private emails, financial incompetence and use of local government controlled enterprises by councils are concerned.
In Townsville, such leadership incompetence has come without direct rebuttal of the CCC inquiry as with the Ipswich Council.
Nevertheless, the expense of local jobs, business investment and social health and wellbeing outcomes in the community have been catastrophic and the worst results across Australia over the past 10 years.
Townsville has record bankruptcies, suicides, domestic violence, youth crime and appeals to food and shelter charities have skyrocketed since Jenny Hill won the Mayoral race to the local government authority in 2012.
The slight of political gamesmanship that usually goes undetected by the voters has become visible through the use of libel laws by Mr. Palmer, the findings of the Crime and Misconduct Commision (CCC) and the machinations of the LGAQ leadership seeking to protect local government actors.
Precedent for council enterprises in conflict with voter choice and control
Head of the LGAQ, Mr. Mark Jamieson has reaffirmed his support of the Townsville City Council along with all councils creating “special purpose” corporations as a means of developing economic opportunities for the local government authority.
Townsville City Council has created “special purpose” vehicles, which are independent corporations with separately appointed Boards not elected by voters, for the development of the Magnis Resources Battery Gigafactory at Woodstock.
With the support of the former editor of Townsville Bulletin, Mr. Ben English and a bevy of local leaders voiced their support for Ms. Hill at the time.
$18.5 million in council funding for Adani’s airstrip at its Carmichael coal mine was also flagged for a “special purpose” corporation. This decision by the executive of the council in secret council meetings attracted over 60,000 objections from the community and the dissenting vote by Councillor Mr. Paul Jacobson.
In light of the CCC investigation identifying councils across Queensland that have lost the trust of ratepayers because of poor community consultation and unsatisfactory adherence to good governance practices associated with the creation of “special purpose” entities in Ipswich, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, the LGAQ policy executive continues its support of the controversial practice of creating entities which are not subject to ratepayer transparency and reporting.
Local Government Association at odds with democratic values in the community
In an LGAQ press release, Mr. Jamieson commented: “that councils welcome any and all actions that genuinely support greater adherence to good governance and ways to strengthen public trust in the system of local government.”
Mr. Jamieson said the Association’s 16-member Policy Executive had delivered a communique to the Government outlining its response to the Crime and Corruption Commission recommendations in its report Operation Windage, which further examined the activities of Ipswich City Council.
Mr. Jamieson said the LGAQ supported many of the recommendations made by the CCC, including restrictions on the use of private email accounts to conduct council business.
“Without a doubt, we agree with the CCC that certain policy and procedural reforms for local government are needed,” he said.
“Councils are keenly aware that they should be seen to meet the community’s expectations regarding openness, accountability and transparency.”
The LGAQ has, however, cautioned the Palaszczuk Government against moving to restrict the use of controlled entities by local councils to do business on behalf of their communities.
The LGAQ has told the Government that controlled entities – when established with sound governance arrangements in place – can (and do) conduct their business activities in a manner that serves the public interest.
“The findings against one council should not be used to force unwieldy and unnecessary restrictions on the entire local government sector,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“Councils that use controlled entities appropriately, do so in the best interests of the communities they represent.”
Mr. Jamieson said the LGAQ agreed that elected councillors should not sit on the boards of controlled entities but would oppose excessive restrictions.
“We believe the standards of behaviour, transparency and accountability expected of local government should be the same as those applied to the State Government.”
“It is in that spirit that we will work with the Government to chart the best way forward for local councils in Queensland.”
Palmer spearheads traditional role for private corporations and Government
In the context of Mr. Palmer’s observations of the Townsville City Council and the LGAQ advice to unravel the political interest of councillors on “council-controlled enterprise” boards, the Townsville community is left wondering where the openness, accountability and transparency exist with the Townsville City Council, private boards and the political actors.
Mr. Palmer is offering billions in private capital and a greater role for industry leaders, while the leadership of the local government authorities is wanting more commercial and industrial engagement for councillors that are clearly outside the financial and governance competency set of local government.
Why governments and fiscal money supply is failing domestic entrepreneurship
In governments and political parties’ desperation to control the supply of private industry investment, primarily to win government power, the integrity of local government and its obligation to community engagement, essential infrastructure and service delivery is failing.
The attempts by progressive governments using political correctness are well known in social and cultural circles, but this political utopia is being attempted in economic and private investment at the local and state government level.
The consequences to the confidence of local business players are unfavourable, worried by cashflows, sovereign risk and the risk of political dystopia.
This climate of division is stifling investment by local investors in transformative technologies and assets. It is impacting the participation rate of unemployed local labour as the “buy local” political rhetoric eventually found cheap labour from the Philippines. Yet another blow for Labor policy aggressively pushing new industry solar projects as central to the globalist climate change and anti-coal agenda.
Who is really accountable?
As experts, and in this case the LGAQ leadership, they are seeking to make their cake and eat it too by advocating a policy of less community representation on government-mandated corporations risking taxpayer resources, while seeking to encourage more openness, accountability and transparency with voters.
Such complexities in policy makes achieving workability and material outcomes that are protected from conflicts of interest, bribery and corruption is an absolute nonsense position.
The decision to implement the recommendations of the Crime and Misconduct Commission rests with the Queensland Government, influenced by none other than Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s political leadership.
Meanwhile, local council leaders continue to blame the global financial crisis of 2011 and a downturn in the mining industry for the pain and suffering of thousands of Townsville residents without any satisfactory accountability.
So the machinations for political power and ostensible rejection of a local company’s accountability directly impacted by global market prices such was Queensland Nickel’s experience rests with the Labor party at local and state level.
Effectively the 16 executives of the LGAQ by promoting the use of the Clive Palmer private governance and accountability business model, by and large, have given timely credibility to Mr. Palmer’s frank assessment of Mayor Jenny Hill being “sick of politicians talking bull*hit”.
In the current economic and social climate, is it just politicians worthy of accountability?
Or are the experts, bureaucrats and lobbyists advocating impossible design elements of governance and financial system to ensure their own livelihoods and privilege?
After all, politicians are not experts in business or government. So who benefits the most by introducing more problems and complexity to the public sector? You guessed it. The lobbyists and experts required to advise the government needing even greater resources to maintain the bureaucratic empire.
So the burden of governance and political policy, even at the local council level as our constitutional and administrative laws apply, direct the accountability exclusively to the State Government.
And no less, the Labor state government in the case of local government because the mess created for local government occurred firstly under the Peter Beattie and Anna Bligh Labor governments when the LGAQ was aggressively opposed to Labor policy and Council amalgamations.
How times have surely changed.
When a local Townsville resident, the richest person in Queensland and independent private investor has to resort to legal action against government-controlled entities to invest in Townsville jobs, business and community charities, one has to ask who is accountable for the pain and suffering of local residents, innocent mums and dads who have lost their houses, lost their superannuation and lost their financial security, freedom of speech and right to political representation and democratic choice and control?
Well, we should look no further than the excessively progressive and hostile Labor governments in Queensland from Beattie to Palaszczuk.
As the incumbent fox is in charge of the hen house on local government policy, the Labor party’s only way to maintain power is to defend the indefensible and convince the electorate of lies and misinformation, which Mr. Palmer unceremoniously declares is BS that makes him ill.
Unlike most Townsvilleans, Mr. Palmer is a billionaire and has no qualms about using this privilege and the legal counsel only he could afford to bring the political and bureaucratic roosters to the ultimate brand of accountability, a lawful judgement in the courts.
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