Senior members of the Queensland government have slammed an independent MP who attacked the Ipswich City Council under the protection of parliamentary privilege.
A document tabled by Cairns member Rob Pyne on Wednesday flagged former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale’s alleged links with developers and possible conflicts of interest involving councillors and staff.
By making the allegations in parliament, Mr Pyne is protected from a possible defamation action.
His actions drew strong criticism on Thursday from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Treasurer Curtis Pitt and Attorney General Yvette D’Ath.
“If you put forward those sorts of allegations with the protection of privilege you need to make sure you can substantiate those allegations, because, privilege or not, it does reflect on individuals,” Ms D’Ath said.
Mr Pitt said parliamentary privilege gave members the opportunity to raise matters of serious significance to the public, a measure that should only be used where claims were supported by clear evidence.
“I haven’t seen anything that says there was a great deal of credible evidence behind that, but that is a question for Mr Pyne,” he said.
Ms Palaszczuk encouraged Mr Pyne to make his allegations to the Crime and Corruption Commission, which is currently investigating the 2016 Ipswich, Moreton Bay, Logan and Gold Cold council elections.
Mr Pisasale served as mayor for 13 years prior to his resignation earlier this month, citing ill health, a day after the CCC raided his offices.
His resignation came after he was found with a bag carrying $50,000 in cash at Melbourne Airport, which his friend and barrister Sam Di Carlo said was for his client.
Acting Ipswich Mayor Paul Tully challenged Mr Pyne to repeat the accusations outside out of parliament, name his source and to either apologise or resign.
“I will be making a complaint to the Speaker asking him to apologise to the people he has defamed,” Mr Tully said.
Mr Pyne’s tabled document makes dozens of accusations against Mr Pisasale, Mr Tully and others, including the running of several development companies owned by the Ipswich City Council.
“The boards of these companies are made up of Mayor Paul Pisasale, Cr Paul Tully, Cr Andrew Antoniolli, CEO Jim Lindsay and the CFO,” the document says.
“It is unknown if they take directors fees, meeting allowances and expenses, etc but it is known that they have travelled overseas extensively under the guise of these companies travelling first class and sometimes hiring private jets.”
He went on to claim under parliamentary privilege that council planners feel unable to refuse development applications put forward by the companies.
Mr Pyne was elected as a Labor MP at the 2015 election but quit the party last year to sit on the crossbench.