Opposition Refers Former Treasurer Curtis Pitt To Parliament’s Ethics Committee

Opposition Refers Former Treasurer Curtis Pitt To Parliament’s Ethics Committee

Rail Express David Loneragan

Former QLD Treasurer Accused Of Misleading Parliament Over QR Union Deal

Victor P Taffa

Former Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt is to be referred to the Parliament’s ethics committee by the Liberal National Party (LNP) opposition, after the latter has claimed to be in possession of documents revealing that former Treasurer Pitt misled the House over the details of a Queensland Rail enterprise agreement signed with industry unions in late 2016.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the documents show that Pitt who is currently the likely candidate for the position of Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and former transport minister Stirling Hinchliffe had instructed the QR board to accept the new enterprise agreement during the driver-shortage crisis, despite the board’s misgivings about a deal that would see driver pay increase by 3 % per year over 4 years.

NewsCorp has reported that the board’s chair Nicole Hollows had written to Pitt and Hinchliffe on 13 December 2016, stating that “the operational, timetabling and financial impacts” of the agreement had not been subject to “robust” assessment and analysis.

“Full costings of the proposed agreement have not been provided to the board and no external benchmarking has been undertaken in relation to the proposed arrangements.” Ms. Hollows said.

Of particular concern to the QR board was a new split meal break deal, which would see the current single 40-minute break replaced by two 30-minute breaks, an arrangement which, Hollows wrote, would “reduce flexibility and constrain efficient train operations”, thus impacting on QR’s ability to meet service demands.

However, mere days after this letter was sent, the acting chair of the QR Board, Davie Marchant, wrote to the same ministers, indicating that subsequent discussions with the unions regarding the outstanding meal-break and rostering issues had been resolved “in a form that is consistent with the board’s approval”.

Former Treasurer Pitt told Parliament in February last year that there had been no “informal direction” regarding the deal given to QR by any Labor ministers.

“Apart from that, what we have done both myself and the former minister Stirling Hinchliffe is put very clearly our views of what should be happening in this space on the record and to the board for their consideration.” Pitt said then.

“We did not issue a direction.”

Opposition Leader Frecklington said on Friday that the discrepancy between the information contained the documents and Pitt’s statement in Parliament meant that there was a “clear case” the former treasurer had to answer for, and that she would write to the Parliament’s Ethics Committee

“Queenslanders ask one thing from their politicians and that is honesty.” Opposition Leader Frecklington said.

“After looking at those documents it is clear that Curtis Pitt has failed that test of honesty.”

QLD Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Friday Pitt denied that he had misled Parliament.

“I categorically refute any suggestion that I have misled Parliament and I would be more than happy to provide the speaker with any further information or clarification should he request it.” Mr. Pitt said.

A government spokesperson said in a statement that the details of the enterprise agreement were consistent with the recommendations of the Strachan Inquiry,

Inquiry’s report, released early last year, stated that QR’s staffing issues including a chronic undersupply of train crew were a major cause of the significant train service delays and cancellations in 2016 and had consistently impeded the operation of a fully-reliable network timetable.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said that the process of implementing the inquiry’s recommendations had to take into account both the demands of financial responsibility and necessity of providing fair payment and conditions to the staff operating QR train services, and, moreover, that the new agreement had been a pathway towards achieving these goals.

“Government has already made strong progress implementing the recommendations of the inquiry to deliver reliable, convenient services that Queenslanders rely on.” Deputy Premier Trad said.

“We want to ensure strong financial management of the budget but, like any responsible employer, we also want to ensure our train drivers and frontline employees are appropriately paid.”