'Black Friday' for Queensland government

February 25, 1998

By Bill Mason

BRISBANE — The fate of the Queensland Coalition government hangs in the balance in the aftermath of "Black Friday", February 13, when three senior National Party ministers were sacked or resigned because of allegations of rorting of ministerial expenses.

The purge, reminiscent of the last days of the infamous Bjelke-Petersen regime, follows accusations by Marilyn Hobbs, the former wife of now resigned natural resources minister Howard Hobbs, of misuse of taxpayer funds to support extramarital affairs with staff members.

The accusations have been flying thick and fast. A former adviser to sacked family services minister Kev Lingard alleged "suspect ethical practices" in the minister's office over ministerial expenses. The smell of death now hangs over the Borbidge government, with a state election due by mid-year.

"As claims of individual impropriety continue to roll out, the Nationals face their worst nightmare: an election similar to 1989, when they were tossed out of government for the type of behaviour that is going to hand the premiership to [ALP leader] Peter Beattie unless Rob Borbidge can contain the fallout from the Hobbs marriage break-up", Courier-Mail commentator Peter Morley noted in the February 21 edition.

"The private relationships of political figures are their own business", Coral Wynter, Democratic Socialist candidate for the state seat of South Brisbane, told Green Left Weekly. "But corruption or misuse of ministerial expenses are another matter. It is no wonder public suspicion of parliamentarians is so high at present, with so much evidence of greed and waste of public funds.

"The Democratic Socialists are committed to clear guidelines on the use of politicians' expense accounts, including limiting parliamentary salaries to those of a skilled worker. We stand for full accountability for elected officials, with the right of public recall by petition of the electors.

"Full popular control is the only way to ensure 'ethical practices' of ministers and MPs are properly maintained", Wynter said.

For further information on the Democratic Socialist campaign, phone (07) 3254 0565.

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