Messenger lashes out on travel row
MEMBER for Burnett Rob Messenger hit back at his former party yesterday, after questions were raised about more than $8000 in taxpayers’ money he spent last year visiting the home town of his now wife.
Deputy Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg said yesterday the LNP had become concerned about Mr Messenger’s frequent trips to Townsville, and an investigation was under way when he quit the party.
But Mr Messenger yesterday took a swipe at the LNP, calling on party president Bruce McIver to resign over the allegations.
He defended his trips to Townsville, saying it was the capital of north Queensland and, as a shadow tourism minister, there were issues he had to address in person.
“Even before I knew my wife existed, I’d flown to Townsville eight times in two years involving official meetings,” he said.
Mr Messenger yesterday released the records of his trips to Townsville from June 28, 2006 to the present.
He said he met his wife, Fern Duffie, in March 2008 in Rockhampton and the two corresponded for a long time on a professional basis.
Their relationship only became personal in September 2008.
Mr Messenger called the allegations by Mr McIver “a low act of political bastardry”.
He believed the LNP was sending a message to other members of the party thinking of quitting that they would get the same treatment he had received.
Mr Springborg said yesterday Mr Messenger and fellow rebel Aidan McClindon had jumped before they were pushed from the party.
He said Mr Messenger’s behaviour had become increasingly erratic.
“The number of trips to Townsville combined with his personal circumstances raised eyebrows in the party,” Mr Springborg said.
“Now he’s trying to spread a whole lot of mud around to muddy the waters.
“The thing with Rob is everything is a scandal, everything is a conspiracy theory.”
Clerk of the Parliament Neil Laurie said yesterday he checked all claims for allowances submitted to his office.
He said his office would only revisit the detail of allowances if someone provided them with evidence of wrongdoing, and no such evidence had been provided.
Figures detail trips north
YESTERDAY’S controversy over Member for Burnett Rob Messenger’s Townsville visits turned into the battle of the figures.
Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek’s office released figures showing in 2008/09 Mr Messenger claimed for 14 nights in Townsville.
In the 2005/06 financial year he made no trips to Townsville, two in 2006/07 and 10 in 2007/08.
Mr Messenger also released details of his trips to Townsville from June 28, 2006 to the present.
In September 2008, he attended the Tourism Ball in Townsville, the trip during which he said his relationship with future wife Fern Duffie became personal.
He did make trips after that for events such as an LNP conference and the North Queensland Economic Development Conference.