Palaszczuk faces penalty after CCC probe
ANNASTACIA Palaszczuk faces being punished by State Parliament - or even referred for criminal prosecution - over allegations she threatened Katter's Australian Party MPs.
Queensland's corruption watchdog yesterday warned there was "prima facie" evidence that the premier breached the Criminal Code and urged she be stripped of the power to decide MP perks.
The extraordinary findings by the Crime and Corruption Commission come after Ms Palaszczuk tore up KAP's special staffing deal when the party refused to bow to her demands to denounce bigoted comments made by Senate recruit Fraser Anning.
Senior legal figures said there was a "real prospect" that the Premier had stumbled into a broad section of the Criminal Code against interfering with the duty of an MP and queried why the CCC did not pursue its own prosecution.
Ms Palaszczuk dismissed the matter shortly after the CCC revealed its finding but the Government was yesterday locked in discussion about how to handle the damaging saga.
"In the heat of Question Time, people make comments in the argy-bargy
of Parliament," the Premier said.
The Opposition and KAP both demanded parliamentary investigations and for Ms Palaszczuk to stand down during the deliberations.
Opposition deputy leader Tim Mander called for a bipartisan select committee with equal government and non-government members to investigate the premier.
"We're calling on the Palaszczuk Government to do the right thing," he said.
"Be transparent and accountable and allow this select committee to actually be established to investigate these allegations."
KAP leader Robbie Katter said the matter should be referred to the ethics committee.
"In light of the CCC's findings it is clear that the Premier's actions were unacceptable," he said.
"The CCC did not rule out that the Premier had breached the Criminal Code but unfortunately their mandate does not allow them to prosecute cases based on actions in the Queensland Parliament.
"This puts the obligation on the Parliament and the Speaker to deal appropriately with the Premier's actions," he said.
In a statement, CCC said the premier's public demands that KAP denounce Senator Anning or lose funding could be considered "entirely inappropriate and to have exposed her to the prospect of facing a charge of bribery under s. 60 of the Criminal Code".
However, CCC boss Alan MacSporran said that while the watchdog did have jurisdiction over the matter despite parliamentary privilege, it decided against pursuing a prosecution after weighing up the public interest and the likelihood of success.
"We're firmly of the view that any proposed prosecution of the Premier for this conduct would never have any reasonable grounds or prospects of success. And hence we don't propose to take that course," he said.
However, Mr MacSporran QC said there was evidence Ms Palaszczuk had erred and the Legislative Assembly could pursue the premier for contempt of parliament or choose to refer the matter to the Attorney-General for prosecution.
"It technically satisfies the elements of the offence such that there is what we call as lawyers a prima facie case," he said.
"But as I said also, that's not the only consideration when someone is looking to whether a prosecution should be launched and someone charged.
"There is a very real consideration that needs to be addressed, which is whether it's in the public interest."
Senator Anning was widely condemned for calling for a "final solution" on immigration in his maiden speech, a phrase associated with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.
Ms Palaszczuk gave KAP extra staff entitlements last term valued at around $500,000-a-year when her minority government needed the party for backup support.
Mr MacSporran said it was an affront to democracy and not in the public interest for the executive government to allocate resources to their political opponents.
He suggested the Queensland independent Remuneration Tribunal, which currently handles the pay and perks of individual MPs, could take over setting entitlements for political parties.
"When you think about it, the allocation of resources to elected members of parliament is a fundamental plank in a democratic system," Mr MacSporran said.
"If you're interfering with the resource allocation, it is a very disappointing outcome."