Bill Shorten chats to the Gladstone Ports subcontractor in the moment that sparked the controversy.
Bill Shorten chats to the Gladstone Ports subcontractor in the moment that sparked the controversy.

CCC probes Gladstone Ports worker sacking

THE corruption watchdog has been asked to probe whether the suspension of a Gladstone worker was a politically-inspired hit ordered by a former Labor candidate-turned Port boss or Palaszczuk Government ministers.

In a damning blow for the State Government-owned Gladstone Ports Corporation, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has demanded a crucial, independent blowtorch to determine whether the decision was retribution ordered by the Palaszczuk Government.

The Gladstone Ports subcontractor tripped up Bill Shorten when he asked what Labor would do for high-income earners at a highly-staged meet-and-greet with voters in the marginal seat of Flynn on April 23.

The next day his pass did not work and last week his desk was packed up and delivered to his house.

After The Courier-Mail reported the matter, his former employer back flipped and reinstated the man but later informed the media that he intended to find work elsewhere.

There is no suggestion that Bill Shorten had anything to do with the aftermath of the incident.

The Crime and Corruption Commission formally received Ms Frecklington's referral yesterday and will assess the matter before launching an investigation.

In the correspondence, Ms Frecklington told CCC chairman Alan MacSporran that "for a worker to be suspended for asking a question to a political leader is a disgraceful act of retribution and is something we should never tolerate in this country.

"My concern is to identify the circumstances which gave rise to this reported action by the Gladstone Ports Corporation against this individual and whether any undue pressure was brought to bear on his employer by the port.

"Specifically, I am concerned about the role of Peter O'Sullivan, the current chief executive officer of the Port of Gladstone and former Labor candidate (for Gladstone), the shareholding ministers and their offices had in arranging the Bill Shorten media event and the subsequent suspension of the worker who engaged with Bill Shorten about Labor tax policy.

"The community needs to be confident that the culture of every government-owned corporation does not tolerate practices involving retribution when legitimate questions are asked of political leaders.

"In undertaking any investigation, it would be important to ascertain whether any direction, formal or informal, was given by the port's chief executive officer, to two shareholding Queensland Government ministers (Jackie Trad and Mark Bailey), their officers, or their departments, after the federal Leader of the Opposition Mr Shorten was embarrassed by the question from the contractor.

"We understand that the Under Treasurer is investigating the matter, which is highly inappropriate given the obvious conflict of interest."

Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled
Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled


Ms Trad said the Government had no hand in Gladstone Port's decision.

"I understand that this was action that was taken entirely by the Port of Gladstone Authority," Ms Trad said.

She said Treasury would now look into the matter.

"The Treasury Department will absolutely have a look at the application of the Port's policies in response to this particular incident," she said.