MP strikes back at Bolt

IPSWICH'S Federal MP Shayne Neumann has hit back at controversial columnist Andrew Bolt for criticising his absence at a flood inquiry hearing in Sydney earlier this month.

Chief executives from 25 of Australia's most influential insurance companies were summoned as witnesses to attend a parliamentary inquiry into the insurance industry on October 14.

Mr Neumann was instrumental in setting up the inquiry after witnessing the problems suffered by residents affected by the Ipswich floods, but he was unable to attend the Sydney hearing through illness.

In fact, just two of the inquiry's seven MPs were present.

Mr Bolt took aim at the missing members in a post on his blog this week, singling out Mr Neumann for his failure to appear.

He added that: "Inquiries are what you call when you just want to be seen to be doing something."

Yesterday Mr Neumann said he had been taken ill with a stomach bug the day before the hearing, which was serious enough to force him to fly home.

Mr Neumann reported to the parliamentary nurse and was treated by West Australian Liberal MP Dr Mal Washer with injections.

He was bed-ridden over the following weekend.

"I was just appallingly ill and if he (Mr Bolt) had contacted me I would have told him," Mr Neumann said.

Mr Neumann apologised ahead of time but was unaware why other MPs failed to show.

The executives were asked questions by both sides of politics, he said.

The MP had some of his own criticism for Mr Bolt, who lost a race discrimination case in the Federal Court last month following two Herald Sun stories published in 2009.

He said the comments were typical of Mr Bolt.

"It was sloppy journalism, unfair journalism and partisan journalism."

Following the hearing, Mr Neumann arranged for Australian Insurance Council CEO Rob Whelan to come to Ipswich last Monday for a community meeting with business and homeowners.

Mr Neumann said he had attended similar hearings in Ipswich, Toowoomba, Brisbane, North Queensland, Armidale and Western Australia.

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