Paul Dar­rouzet dis­putes claims about dredg­ing ap­proval

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Sharon Small­wood

ABELL Point Ma­rina owner Paul Dar­rouzet says he is tak­ing steps to clear his name fol­low­ing the pub­lish­ing of two ar­ti­cles in the na­tional me­dia in Au­gust. On Au­gust 18 and 19, the Aus­tralian Fi­nan

cial Re­view ran re­ports claim­ing Mr Dar­rouzet was one of a “new breed” of po­lit­i­cal donors, help­ing to fill the cof­fers of the Lib­eral Na­tional Party (LNP).

The ini­tial re­port claimed the “for­mer coal baron turned ma­rina op­er­a­tor” and largest in­di­vid­ual donor to the Queens­land LNP, gave $150,000 to the party just one week be­fore “gain­ing ap­proval to dredge near the Great Bar­rier Reef”.

The ar­ti­cles stated the do­na­tion, made last year through Mr Dar­rouzet’s pri­vate in­vest­ment company Pond­cote, was not per­son­ally de­clared to the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of Queens­land, as re­quired by law.

Pro­duc­ing pa­per­work to the con­trary in his ma­rina of­fice this week, Mr Dar­rouzet said th­ese claims were un­true.

Mr Dar­rouzet says he not only de­clared the do­na­tion but was is­sued with a for­mal re­ceipt from the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of Queens­land’s As­sis­tant Di­rec­tor of Fund­ing and Dis­clo­sure, David Got­tke, on Novem­ber 6, 2013.

He is also adamant there is no re­la­tion­ship be­tween his po­lit­i­cal al­le­giances and dredg­ing at Abell Point.

“Ap­proval to dredge the ma­rina was granted in 2003 by the State La­bor Gov­ern­ment and an­nual re­newals are is­sued each year,” he said.

“Dredg­ing will be in the Abell Point Ma­rina, at­tached to the main­land – nowhere near the Great Bar­rier Reef [and] with all spoil used to re­me­di­ate an eye­sore at the en­trance to Air­lie Beach. To im­ply the long-awaited dredg­ing and re­me­di­a­tion of the spoils pond was the re­sult of a po­lit­i­cal favour and will im­pact the Great Bar­rier Reef is non­sense.”

It is this per­cep­tion of dam­age to the reef that Mr Dar­rouzet says has caused him the most grief, with var­i­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal groups and even Queens­land Greens Se­na­tor, Larissa Wa­ters, weigh­ing into the Abell Point de­bate.

De­fend­ing him­self, Mr Dar­rouzet says he has ded­i­cated his heart and soul to the ma­rina over the last two years “[and] the life of the ma­rina de­pends on the health of the Great Bar­rier Reef”.

“To sug­gest I would se­cretly pay to dam­age any part of it is a dis­grace,” he said.

Fed­eral MP George Chris­tensen has also voiced his opin­ion on the is­sue, say­ing the Abell Point Ma­rina dredg­ing project has been at­tacked by left-wing ac­tivist groups de­spite the fact it would have “zero im­pact on the reef”.

“What this proves is this - whether it’s coal, fish­ing, tourism or any job-cre­at­ing in­dus­try, the ex­treme greens will op­pose it,” Mr Chris­tensen said.

As for why he chose to do­nate large sums of money to a po­lit­i­cal party, Mr Dar­rouzet said he had done so since the 1980’s and he made “no bones” about where he stood.

“I’m not go­ing to hide or be ashamed of the things I’ve do­nated to – I’ve also given mil­lions to char­i­ties in­clud­ing the Wes­ley Med­i­cal Re- search In­sti­tute, the Life Stream Foun­da­tion and Lions clubs of Aus­tralia,” he said.

“As long as what you be­lieve in is le­gal, le­git­i­mate and proper, if you don’t support it, what’s the point.”

Mr Dar­rouzet says he is launch­ing defama- tion ac­tion against the Aus­tralian Fi­nan­cial

Re­view as a re­sult of the ar­ti­cles pub­lished. Mean­while, a Se­nate In­quiry into the Queens­land LNP Gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing its fi­nances, has also been an­nounced.

DO­NA­TIONS DE­CLARED: Abell Point Ma­rina owner Paul Dar­rouzet has pa­per­work to prove he de­clared a do­na­tion to the LNP, made in 2013. Mr Dar­rouzet is now tak­ing steps to clear his name fol­low­ing in­sin­u­a­tions that the do­na­tion was linked to the grant­ing of ap­provals for dredg­ing in the ma­rina.

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