Attorney General says secret funds to stash Trad report are by the book
Queensland taxpayers remain in the dark on how much the State Government is spending on legal action by former deputy premier Jackie Trad to keep a report into her conduct while in office suppressed.
Former Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad. (Photo: AAP Image/Dan Peled)
The LNP Opposition is calling Queensland Attorney General Shannon Fentimann’s stonewalling on the matter a “cover-up”.
Fentiman assured MPs during a budget estimates hearing on Wednesday that she would reveal the costs once the matter was settled.
Shadow Attorney General Tim Nicholls said Fentiman’s refusal to detail the costs upfront was at odds with the earlier decision of the Crime and Corruption Commission and Queensland Parliament to reveal how much public money was being spent on Trad’s legal action.
Under Queensland Government indemnity guidelines, public officers are entitled to financial protection from the state when legal action is taken against them within the scope of their official duties and functions.
It is the second time Trad has received indemnity support from the public purse, confirmed by Fentiman for the first time this week.
Trad’s first request for indemnity was approved by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Fentiman ahead of a CCC probe into the former deputy premier’s appointment of under treasurer Frankie Carroll in 2019.
The second indemnity request was approved solely by Fentiman ahead of Trad’s efforts in the Supreme Court to have the CCC report on the matter suppressed.
Fentiman is adamant the funding is within the guidelines and on the advice of the Crown solicitor.
Deputy Opposition Leader Jarrod Bleijie said Queenslanders would be asking why Fentiman approved the second indemnity question on her own, without input from the premier.
He suggested it was because Fentiman and Trad were “skiing mates” who enjoyed time together on the slopes of Canadian snow resort Whistler, echoing a long running theme that the attorney general has a “blind loyalty” to the former South Brisbane MP at the expense of sound governance.
“It does not pass the pub test for the Queensland taxpayer to pay for the suppression of a Crime and Corruption Commission report,” he said.
“That’s why Shannon Fentiman didn’t seek the premier’s approval because I imagine the Department of Premier and Cabinet would have recommended to the premier not to approve it.”
Bleijie said Queenslanders should have been able to read the report a year ago.
“It begs the question of what’s in the report and why is Jackie Trad so scared to have this report publicly disseminated,” he said.