Queensland taxpayers were about to handover bonus payments to Queensland Rail bosses, despite service failures dragging for two years.
The government-owned company had approved financial handouts of up to 15 per cent for 384 senior managers on Friday last week.
But the payments were stopped on Tuesday night by Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad and Transport Minister Mark Bailey.
Queensland Rail bosses now won’t be eligible for bonus payments until after commuter train services are back to the level they were before major rostering issues hit in 2016.
Mr Bailey said the move was an “error of judgement” while the organisation was still working to recover from a major service failure.
“I think the community expectation is that there should not be bonuses paid to QR executives until the timetable has been restored,” Mr Bailey said.
“I absolutely support the commuters’ view and the government has acted swiftly to ensure the timetable was blocked.”
Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander said the money for the bonuses was allocated in the QR annual report tabled last Friday, and Mr Bailey either knew about the payments or didn’t read the report.
“They’ve now only acted once there’s been media focus and controversy about these bonuses being paid,” Mr Mander said.
But Mr Bailey rejected the suggestion, explaining he had only found out about the decision to award the bonuses on Tuesday, and had acted as quickly as he could.
He said QR had made progress since October 2016 when cascading rostering failures led to the cancellation of hundreds of services in one day.
Mr Bailey said 101 drivers had since been brought on for a net gain of 50 positions, while 95 more were being trained.
Despite that, QR is still working to fill holes in its roster and restore many of the cancelled services.
It’s also still having problems with its workforce, with train drivers and other workers taking excessive sick days in what’s seen as an unofficial strike action in protest at the recent firing of staff.
The Fair Work Commission last Friday ordered workers not to stop work during Riverfire celebrations in Brisbane last Saturday night.