Federal MP Clive Palmer has strongly denied allegations he tried to corruptly influence the Queensland Government, after being referred to the state’s Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) last night.
The allegations relate to an April 2012 meeting between the mining magnate and Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney, just after the Liberal National Party (LNP) won office in 2012.
Mr Seeney claims that during the meeting Mr Palmer asked him for “specialist treatment” for his mining interests “on the basis that he had been a supporter of our government”.
“He wanted to bypass the proper processes and we weren’t prepared to do that,” Mr Seeney told Queensland’s 7.30 program.
Mr Palmer, who is suing Premier Campbell Newman for defamation over comments that he had tried to “buy governments”, rejected the Deputy Premier’s allegations as “simply not true” and said he would be suing Mr Seeney for defamation.
The allegations of Mr Palmer’s request for favourable treatment in the meeting form part of Mr Newman’s defence in the defamation suit, which were lodged with the Supreme Court on Thursday.
“It’s just made up for political purposes. It has got no foundation in fact whatsoever,” Mr Palmer said.
“Mr Seeney only came up with this idea when I sued the Premier and the Premier put that [meeting] in his defence, and Seeney went on TV to try and justify it.”
Mr Seeney referred the claims to the CMC last night after defending his decision not to inform the corruption watchdog after the meeting.
Mr Seeney alleged that at the private meeting Mr Palmer sought favourable treatment for major projects in the Galilee Basin, and presented a draft bill relating to the project.
“I didn’t read it (the bill) of course because I rejected his approach immediately, but he explained to me that this was a draft bill that would give him the exclusive right to build a port and a railway and have control of the Galilee Basin,” he said.
“He believed he should have that in exchange for the support that he’d given in the past in getting elected.
“I rejected that completely and so I didn’t even read it, I pushed it back across the table and told him that that wasn’t the way we would be doing business, we would do business through the proper processes.
“And from that point on he has gone on to start his own party because he couldn’t get us to do what he wanted [us] to do.”
Palmer says claims are an attempt to discredit him
In a statement on his website, titled “Newman lies in defamation defence”, Mr Palmer said the claims are an attempt to discredit him.
“Campbell Newman is simply telling untruths or he has been told lies by Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney and is using them to try and defend the defamation action,” he said.
“This is nothing more than a desperate attempt by desperate people to discredit me.
“If I had done anything wrong, the Premier should have reported me to the CMC or to the police, but that didn’t happen and it hasn’t happened over the last two years.
“The last donation that was made by myself or any of my companies to the LNP was in late 2010. I have no knowledge of how that donation was spent. The last state election wasn’t until March, 2012.”
Mr Seeney, who only referred the allegations to the CMC after his interview with 7.30 last night, said he alerted Mr Newman at the time, but not the police or the corruption watchdog.
“Yes [I] certainly told the Premier a number of times because after that the relationship started to deteriorate and when people are trying to understand why Clive Palmer was so antagonistic towards our government I explained that this was the reason why.”
He said on reflection he would have done things differently.
“I think I should have reported it at that stage but at the time it was a case of just rejecting that sort of approach and saying this is the way we are going to do it,” Mr Seeney said.
“The way things have developed since then I regret that I didn’t report it.”
Mr Palmer said both Mr Seeney and the Premier had an obligation to report allegations of corruption in 2012 if they had concerns.
“The Premier is supposed to be the key law officer of the state … if the Premier heard this he had an obligation to report it to the police and to the CMC,” he said.
“The fact that he hasn’t done so means that he has committed a criminal offence as well and should be thrown in jail.
“This is not the end of things.”
A spokesman for Mr Newman says he cannot comment because the corruption allegations are with the CMC and defamation action is before the courts.