Senate supports inquiry into Newman Government
AN UNPRECEDENTED inquiry into the Newman Government and its finances, moved at Clive Palmer's behest, will report its findings as the state goes to the polls next March.
After failing to get Labor's support for his inquiry into Premier Campbell Newman's first term government last week, the Palmer United Party succeeded in the Senate on Tuesday afternoon.
Mr Palmer, who has been involved in a long-running feud with Mr Newman, gained Labor's support after changing the terms of the inquiry so it would not look at the previous Bligh Government.
The Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne also gave Mr Palmer her party's support, in return for the inquiry examining regulation of coal seam gas in Queensland, and a PUP pledge to help vote down the government's planned handover of Commonwealth environmental laws to the state.
The inquiry will also look at the Newman Government's role in spending Commonwealth finances, the independence of the state's judicial system, approval processes and environmental regulations of major projects.
It will also examine the adequacy of Commonwealth oversight of coal seam gas projects in Queensland, and has a remit to appoint a range of small subcommittees.
But Leader of Government in the Senate, Senator Eric Abetz, slammed the inquiry in the chamber, labelling it "absolutely appalling".
Sen Abetz also threatened the PUP, saying the government could stop any of the minor party's senators from sitting on any other committees in the future.
"Just be very careful what you are asking for," he said.
"If this is the way you want to run the Senate, so be it, it will be on your heads."
Sen Abetz also indicated he may yet call on Mr Newman to ban state government officials from giving evidence to the inquiry, despite the Senate's powers to order people to give evidence.
Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan said in the chamber, and under parliamentary privilege, that the inquiry was "all about buying the government" and Mr Palmer had a "conflict of interest" that was at the centre of the inquiry in the first place.
A Queensland Government spokeswoman said the inquiry would be "seen for what it is: a political stunt by Labor, Clive Palmer and The Greens".
"The Queensland government will not be distracted from the real issues of growing the economy and delivering better frontline services and a lower cost of living for Queensland families," she said.
The committee was tasked by PUP, The Greens and Labor, to report its findings "on or before" March 27 next year, the final deadline for the state election.
It will include just one government senator, two Opposition senators, one Greens Senator and one PUP senator.
Under the terms of the inquiry, it may yet hold hearings in Nambour, Ipswich, Mackay, Rockhampton, Kingaroy, Mt Isa, Bundaberg, Toowoomba, Townsville and Cairns, as well as other regional Queensland towns.
- APN NEWSDESK