Grant fu­els La­bor link claims

...but they’re garbage, says Ripoll

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS - EX­CLU­SIVE STEVEN WARDILL

A BIOFUELS com­pany with h La­bor Party links was awardded a lu­cra­tive grant by the e Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment nt ahead of dozens of other con­n­ten­ders.

The Courier-Mail can ree­veal a com­pany awarded a tax­payer-funded grant to turn Bund­aberg dis­tillery waste e into en­ergy is chaired by for­mer fed­eral MP Bernie Ripoll.

The com­pany, Util­i­tas, is the brain­child of Mr Ripoll’s part­ner Fiona Water­house, who is chief ex­ec­u­tive and ma­jor share­holder in the Brisbane-based busi­ness.

There is no sug­ges­tion the con­tract was not awarded on merit.

Pre­mier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk per­son­ally an­nounced the com­mer­cial-in-con­fi­dence grant last week while in Bund­aberg, a key elec­torate that La­bor must re­tain to re­gain gov­ern­ment at the elec­tion.

The grant was awarded un­der the Gov­ern­ment’s $4 mil­lion Bio­fu­tures Ac­cel­er­a­tion Pro­gram which gen­er­ated in­ter­est from more than 100 com­pa­nies and was set up to at­tract firms to Queens­land.

Mr Ripoll is a for­mer fed­eral La­bor mem­ber for Ox­ley, a seat that over­laps Ms Palaszczuk’s Inala state elec­torate.

He is also a mem­ber of La­bor’s Right fac­tion, along with Ms Palaszczuk and State De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter An­thony Lyn­ham, whose d depart­ment made the grant de­ci­sion. “It just so hap­pens I am in the La­bor Party and as far as I know that isn’t an of­fence,” Mr Ripoll said.

He said he did not meet or talk to any­one in the Gov­ern­ment about Util­i­tas or the grant.

“I did not speak to the Pre­mier,” he said.

“They did not know I was com­ing to Bund­aberg. I have been very care­ful not to give the ap­pear­ance of the re­la­tions and links.”

Dr Lyn­ham’s spokes­woman said the Min­is­ter was in­tro­duced to Ms Water­house on the day the grant was an­nounced, while he met Mr Ripoll at a so­cial event.

She said the Min­is­ter had no role in the as­sess­ment of ap­pli­ca­tions for fund­ing for the pro­gram.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Tim Ni­cholls said “fun­da­men­tal ques­tions” had been raised about Ms Palaszczuk’s “lead­er­ship and in­tegrity”.

an NO CON­CERNS: Bernie Ripoll and (inset) the grant is an­nounced by Pre­mier Palaszczuk..

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