Transcript of interview with Newman on sacking of Terry Hill

Editor Frazer Pearce and reporter Christine McKee interviewed Premier Campbell Newman and Keppel MP Bruce Young last month over the sacking of Central Queensland Main Roads director Terry Hill. Mr Hill lost his job in 2013 shortly after an impromptu invitation to former Rockhampton Labor MP Robert Schwarten and former Rockhampton Mayor Brad Carter to help the official VIPs cut the ribbon at the Gracemere Overpass opening.

Frazer Pearce: What really took place behind the scenes?

Campbell Newman: Search me. Honestly, I don't know anything about it.

FP: The invitation list (to the Gracemere Overpass opening) went to the minister's office (Scott Emerson) and three names were struck off the list. It was sent back saying we don't want these three people to go, in fact that seems out of order straight away. So the invitation list had already gone out, we had the ribbon ceremony and we know what took place there and then two weeks later after being seemingly in saloon passage to get the (CQ Main Roads director's) job, Terry Hill is out of the picture, goneski. So the excuse (Director General's) 'we decided to move in a different direction' just doesn't ring true, I'm sorry, despite all the statements on the record. Deadset, am I missing something here? How could that be? How could there be such a coincidence? And it troubles me to this day, what happened to Terry Hill.

FP: (To Bruce Young) Does it trouble you?

Bruce Young: Terry and I worked together. I've known Terry for 30 years. Reality is, if you're asking me did I beat my chest and go down and complain about what happened? No, I didn't. I can put my hand on my heart and say that.

FP: I want to know what the truth is.

The moment Cr Margaret Strelow called for former mayor Brad Carter and former local member Robert Schwarten to help with cutting the ribbon of the new overpass. Photo: Sharyn O'Neill / The Morning Bulletin
The moment Cr Margaret Strelow called for former mayor Brad Carter and former local member Robert Schwarten to help with cutting the ribbon of the new overpass. Photo: Sharyn O'Neill / The Morning Bulletin Sharyn O'Neill ROK140613opening1

BY: The reality is, you know what I mean….

FP: (interrupts) A sudden decision to change tack? Just like that, to coincide with all the other stuff that's going on at the time? What might be seen as a mild embarrassment because of the (ribbon cutting) faux pas.

BY: Mate, I don't think you can put anything on that. I think you're hedging your bets there.

FP: I'm not hedging my bets.

Christine McKee: It's about a basic disrespect for someone who played such a significant part and was so well respected for it.

In any other circumstances would have ordinarily been invited (to the opening) because of the role he played and anything different is…

BY: That wasn't my decision.

I didn't get the invitation list and say Bruce, who's going to be there and who isn't.

FP: So you didn't get the (invite) list?

BY: No, absolutely not.

FP: Someone did though; someone denied those three names on the list, someone at the minister's department.

(To Campbell Newman) And that should be a concern for you, even though it wasn't a big deal at the time…

CN: I honestly don't know anything about it.

FP: But you got an email from the mayor of Rockhampton?

CN: Yes.

FP: Saying she was really concerned for what happened to Terry Hill, and it (inviting Robert Schwarten and Brad Carter to help cut the ribbon) was her mistake?

CN: Well, if she's reflecting on some gossip that someone's told her and sent me an email, I can't stop her doing that.

FP: Not at all, but as the premier, you would be concerned that a department head had got dismissed over what could be seen as petty politics? Surely you'd be concerned about that? Terry Hill, a 30-year career?

CN: People send me stuff all the time.

FP: I appreciate that, but at a certain level as the Premier you'd be thinking, 'how did my minister get involved in this?'.

CN: My view is, I asked at the time was 'what a load of rubbish'.

FP: What's a load of rubbish?

Gracemere overpass opening: The official opening of the Gracemere Overpass gave a chance for locals to walk over it before a convoy of trucks made their first voyage over it.
Gracemere overpass opening: The official opening of the Gracemere Overpass gave a chance for locals to walk over it before a convoy of trucks made their first voyage over it.

CN: What the mayor wrote.

FP: The rubbish isn't his career and the fact that he was about to be reappointed to the position and he got virtually sacked.

SILENCE

FP: Look, I accept you knew nothing about it but….

CN: (Gave two examples of untrue but unrelated rumours he had heard since coming to power)

CN: Conspiracy theories abound… it's all I can add.

FP: And all we can do is look at the evidence that's here and put it together thinking what's wrong with this picture?