Labor government and GetUp make dangerous bedfellows

 thechronicle.com.au  8/12/2018 3:21:55 AM  3  Christine Mckee

THERE'S a lot to be gleamed from the way a politician answers a question.

They will justify themselves until the cows come home or frustratingly avoid a straight answer to a simple question.

Such was the case on Saturday when I asked Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk about allegations of a serious breach of the ministerial code of conduct.

It's been revealed that former GetUp campaign director, Josh Genner had been employed by the Labor Government, on a six-figure tax payer funded income, one day after the election was called on October 29, 2017.

He remained in the job until November 24, one day before the election.

On Saturday, Ms Palaszczuk said Mr Genner was not a member of GetUp and had worked in Deputy Premier, Jackie Trad's office - and that was clearly the end of the matter.

The official response said Mr Genner was employed as a media advisor in the office of the Deputy Premier.

"This role was within the existing staff budget for the Deputy Premier's office," it read.

"The Government's understanding is that Mr Genner had no role with Getup in the period prior to his employment as a ministerial staffer."

But back to the Ministerial Code of Conduct, set up after the Fitzgerald Enquiry into police and political corruption.

It clearly says, Minister's will "Not use official resources for party political purposes. Avoid anything which might reasonably lead to the criticism that people paid from public funds are being used for party political purposes."

I've never worked as a spin-doctor, but seriously, let's look at this.

A 20-second Google search, Linkedin to be exact, told me that Mr Genner had been GetUp's political director from 2013 - July 2017.

Are we to believe that Mr Genner lied on his job application and somehow got away with it when the first result on search of his name brings up his Linkedin account and employment history?

His appointment may have been within Ms Trad's existing staff budget, but does she not know that her staff budget comes from public money?

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad discusses the Works for Queensland program outside Taranganba State School where some of the funds will be spent to improve traffic safety.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad discusses the Works for Queensland program outside Taranganba State School where some of the funds will be spent to improve traffic safety. Chris Ison ROK190917cfunding2

The code instructs Ministers to avoid anything which might reasonably lead to criticism that people are being paid from the public purse for party political purposes.

I think blind Freddy is starting to get the picture that this was at best a shocking interpretation of the code and at worst, a serious breach demanding answers far better than the ones given to date.

Before the 2017 State election, Jackie Trad's seat of South Brisbane was under serious pressure from Greens candidate Amy MacMahon.

The Deputy Premier lead the opposition in cabinet to the $1billion loan to Adani from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund.

The campaign was dominated by anti-Adani protests with GetUp playing a major role.

As polling showed the government was in strife, the Premier, in a shock move, announced she would veto any NAIF loan to Adani.

Jackie Trad won her seat with Greens preferences.

Maybe this was all just a great, big coincidence but the key words in the Ministerial Code of Conduct are "which might reasonably lead to criticism".

With support for the Labor government on the slide and the Premier's tendency to skirt controversy seen as a contributing factor, it's time she stood up to her deputy and is a least seen to be demanding answers.

The LNP has announced this afternoon it will ask the Crime and Conduct Commission to investigate.

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