Integrity crisis: MP’s stay in Chinese developer’s home

 

A PALASZCZUK Government assistant minister took four months to declare a stay in a Chinese developer's home.

In the latest integrity scandal for Labor, The Courier-Mail can reveal ­Keppel MP Brittany Lauga - who also serves as an assistant minister - only ­declared a March overnight stay at the private residence of a businessman behind a major tourism development in her electorate on July 30.

Under parliamentary rules, such declarations need to be made on the official Register of Interests within a month.

Ms Lauga travelled to China in March alongside Livingstone Shire Council Mayor Bill Ludwig and Deputy Mayor Nigel Hutton as part of an "international education delegation".

She said last night she declared the businessman's hospitality as soon as she realised it was not covered in the cost of the trip.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (left) and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad during Question Time in Parliament House in Brisbane, Wednesday, August 21, 2019. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (left) and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad during Question Time in Parliament House in Brisbane, Wednesday, August 21, 2019. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)

 

"I was invoiced by Livingstone Shire Council and paid for associated accommodation," she said.

"I later became aware of an extra night's accommodation not covered by the invoice. I immediately remedied the register," Ms Lauga said.

The LNP has seized on the revelation as it continues its attempts to pressure Annastacia Palaszczuk into sacking her deputy Jackie Trad as well as her chief of staff David Barbagallo over their ongoing integrity sagas.

Brittany Lauga at State Parliament Question Time. Picture: Annette Dew
Brittany Lauga at State Parliament Question Time. Picture: Annette Dew

"Another Palaszczuk Labor Government member has breached the integrity rules," Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said.

"Luxury accommodation from a prohibited donor doesn't pass the pub test."

Ms Lauga, Cr Ludwig and Cr Hutton stayed at Yuexing Group managing president Ding Zuo Yong's private country residence during the China trip.

The Yuexing Group is behind the development of a major tourist resort planned for Zilzie Bay in central Queensland.

Cr Hutton declared the accommodation on both his register of interest and the council's register of gifts offered to councillors, while Cr Ludwig also declared it on the gifts register.

That register will not be made public online until the end of the year.

Both councillors insisted the stay did not breach the developer donation ban, pointing out that the hospitality was modest in nature. They estimated the value of the hospitality at $250.

 

 

Queensland Leader of the Opposition Deb Frecklington (AAP Image/Jono Searle)
Queensland Leader of the Opposition Deb Frecklington (AAP Image/Jono Searle)

 

In a joint statement, Cr Ludwig and Cr Hutton said their council was of the opinion that Yeuxing Group does not meet the current definitions of a prohibited donor under the Electoral Commission guidelines "at this point of time".

"Yeuxing Corporation's primary ­business is integrated hotel and retail complexes and furniture manufacturing," they said.

"To date, Yuexing Corporation has acquired land on the Capricorn Coast and is a ratepayer, however, has made no specific development applications over its land."

Ms Lauga did not answer questions about whether she believed the stay may have breached the developer ­donation ban laws.

Meanwhile, Premier Palaszczuk will report back today on whether her deputy has breached the Parliament's own rule book by not declaring her Woolloongabba investment property to ministerial colleagues.

Ms Palaszczuk was unable to answer a left-field question yesterday on whether Ms Trad had complied with standing orders in her dealings with ministers and public servants in a second sitting day that was dominated by the Government's ongoing dual integrity crisis.

Asked whether Ms Trad had declared all pecuniary interests in representations or communications regarding the Cross River Rail and new South Brisbane high school, the Premier took the question on notice.

She has until today to answer.



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