Premier Campbell Newman speaks at the Queensland government community cabinet meeting at Sacred Heart Primary School, Sunday, November 24, 2013. Photo Kevin Farmer / The Chronicle
Premier Campbell Newman speaks at the Queensland government community cabinet meeting at Sacred Heart Primary School, Sunday, November 24, 2013. Photo Kevin Farmer / The Chronicle Kevin Farmer

See no evil: Premier Newman chose not to look further

WHEN Campbell Newman received an email from Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow pleading with him to reinstate Terry Hill to his position as Main Roads director for Central Queensland, he had a choice to make.

He could investigate allegations made in the email or ignore it.

He chose the latter.

He told me he thought the claim (based on what Cr Strelow had been told by a third party) that Mr Hill had been sacked over the 2013 Gracemere Overpass ribbon cutting incident was "rubbish''.

He didn't call the Minister for Main Roads Scott Emerson or the relevant government department to find out if there was any credibility to the claim.

He compared the claim to mischief-making and gave examples. Well, I see it differently. I see something that smells bad.

Sure, in the scheme of things one senior, highly-respected Main Roads bureaucrat got sacked shortly after the ribbon-cutting controversy at the overpass.

LNP supporters would say to me, this is over, let it go.

I get that. But Terry Hill says he was sacked because of the embarrassment caused to the LNP.

Given the evidence that the Minister for Main Roads' office tried to cancel invites to the Gracemere Overpass opening for three people who had played key roles in the project - before two of them (including ex-Labor MP Robert Schwarten) actually helped cut the ribbon - it does seem very coincidental that Terry Hill would be sacked shortly afterwards.

When we asked to interview the Minister we were told to send questions.

We were then provided with a short statement which can be summarised as "I'm too busy to deal with trivial stuff like this when I have important work to do improving the state's roads''.

Not good enough, Minister.

Your poor answer implies guilt and arrogance.

It is a shame because the LNP has done, I think, a terrific job in the most challenging circumstances in the face of the enormous debt left by the Labor government.

When you look at the LNP's full canvas, this is not a huge blot. But it is a stain that can't be removed.

Out, damned spot?

It also reveals an underlying arrogance that no amount of rehearsal can ever hide completely.