Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga
Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga Chris Ison

GKI failed casino application makes waves in parliament

IT SHOULD have been an impassioned speech from parliament's youngest MP about the privilege and pride of being elected to represent her community.

Instead, Keppel MP Brittany Lauga's first speech to Queensland Parliament was a defence of accusations of conflict of interest over Tower Holdings's $600 million Great Keppel Island eco-resort.

The project's failed casino licence application dogged Labor during parliament on Tuesday.

Ms Lauga told parliament she helped prepare the resort's environmental impact statement when she worked for CQG Consulting before she was elected.

But she said her involvement did not include the casino licence application.

"In March 2015 I sought the advice of the Queensland Integrity Commissioner to determine if I have a conflict of interest regarding my previous employment in this project when I was employed by a local consulting firm as a town planner and my role as the state member for Keppel," Ms Lauga said.

She said the integrity commissioner dismissed suggestions of a conflict of interest.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham also fielded the Opposition's questions about the casino.

Ms Palaszczuk said she knew nothing about former Labor treasurer Terry Mackenroth reportedly telling Tower chief Terry Agnew "don't talk to Brittany (Lauga), keep it quiet and we'll probably get it up" while working from her office.

Ms Palaszczuk said Mr Mackenroth was not part of her paid staff and was helping Labor in a voluntary capacity during its transition to government.

Opposition leader Lawrence Springborg asked why Labor state secretary Evan Moorhead contacted Tower during the casino application process.

Dr Lynham said he was unaware of any contact made, but said the resort had been fully approved for two years.

He said the owner stated he would proceed with the resort without a casino licence and the casino was not part of his resort proposal. 

Here is what she said in parliament:

Mister Speaker I rise today to give a personal explanation regarding my previous employment and my previous employer's involvement in the environmental impact assessment process relating the proposed Great Keppel Island Revitalisation project. 

Prior to being elected to Parliament in 2015 I worked for many years as a Town Planner, in both consulting and for the State Government.

I have worked on sorts of projects across the State - small subdivision projects, multi-unit residential, commercial, industrial and major projects. 

The firm that I was employed at as a Town Planner from January 2011 to January 2015 was involved in the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Great Keppel Island Revitalisation Project.

I worked on the project as an employee of the firm.

My role involved community consultation regarding the project - specifically, engaging with hundreds of local stakeholders about the project and to understand and document their issues, concerns or support for the project. 

In March 2015 I sought the advice of the Queensland Integrity Commissioner to determine if I have a conflict of interest regarding my previous involvement in this project employed by a local consulting firm as a Town Planner and my role as the State Member for Keppel. 

The Integrity Commissioner issued the following advice: 

"Whilst the project is occurring in your electorate, I do not see that you have any formal role or duty in relation to it, nor in relation to the impending application for a casino licence. That being the case, I do not believe that a conflict of interest can now arise". 

In addition to the advice from the Integrity Commissioner, I would like to point out:

1. The environmental approvals for this project were issued by all three levels of Government many years ago.

2. I resigned from CQG Consulting in January 2015 and I have no ongoing involvement in the firm. I have advised Clerk of the Parliament of this and have completed a member's declaration to this effect.

3. I was never involved as a consultant in any way shape or form in Tower's application for any casino licence. I worked for an environmental consulting firm, not as a casino licence application consultant. 

My commitment has and always will be to stand up for my beliefs, that I will be honest, open and accountable to the people of Keppel and of Queensland in my role as the State Member for Keppel. 

Mister Speaker I table the advice from the Integrity Commissioner in March 2015. May I suggest that the Member for Mermaid Beach do the same.   

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