LABOR STALWART: Robert Schwarten shared his opinions on the political landscape in CQ post-state election.
LABOR STALWART: Robert Schwarten shared his opinions on the political landscape in CQ post-state election. Contributed

Schwarten denies renovations paid for on the government tab

ROBERT Schwarten has denied claims made under parliamentary privilege today that the state government paid $26,000 for work done to his Kinka Beach house.

For the second time this week, Shadow Minister for Housing and Public Works, Michael Hart raised questions about the circumstances surrounding the former cabinet minister and Rockhampton MP's involvement with JM Kelly and his subsequent appointment to the board of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission.

He told the parliament he had information that Mr Schwarten had major renovations done to his Rockhampton houses by JM Kelly in 2009 and 2011.

He said he was told that a JMK contractor had painted Mr Schwarten's Kinka Beach house at a cost of $26,000, which was not paid by him but added as a variation to a government contract.

"I've heard this from number of credible people in Central Queensland and both the government and Mr Schwarten have some very serious questions to answer about this," he said.

"These questions are deserving of a thorough and rigorous examination to get to the bottom of things."

Mr Schwarten today denied the claims and said he had never had any work done on his house by JM Kelly boss, Geoff Murphy.

"I've bought windows and doors etc from his business," he said.

The renovations were done by Paul Forrest and Welsh and Lauga and my late father and me," he said.

"In fact I ordered and paid for mirrors at Queensland Windows on the Monday before they went broke and never got the mirrors and so the $220 went to liquidators."

In parliament today, Mr Hart said the Minister for Housing and Public Works, the Minister for Education and the Keppel and Rockhampton MPs had all had an opportunity in the house to rebut his allegations from the previous day but had not.

"That tells me we're on the money," he told the parliament.

Mr Hart claimed he had received information from "multiple sources" in Central Queensland.

He urged anyone with additional information to contact him.

"The people who have contacted me have raised some very concerning issues in addition to the ones raised on Tuesday."

He questioned what action was taken by the Department of Housing and Public Works (DHPW) to inform other state and local government agencies about the issues with JM Kelly Builders.

He also questioned why state government agencies, such as the Department of Education and Training, chose to ignore the risk and award contracts for major projects to JM Kelly Builders while the company ws under investigation by DHPW.

"What financial assurances were given by JM Kelly during the tender process and were these thoroughly checked before they were awarded government contracts?" he asked.

"What roles did the Member for Keppel play ... and I table an email (dated August 16, 2016) showing that she knew all about this issue."

The Department of Education issued a statement today saying it would continue to work with Department of Housing and Public Works (DHPW) and the administrators, Price Waterhouse Coopers, "as we work through this situation".

"At the time of tender release and contract award for Eimeo State School construction, the Department was not aware of any concerns or issues with the performance of JM Kelly Builders," the statement read.

"Since the advice of JM Kelly being placed in administration, the Department has formally terminated the building contract with JM Kelly Builders for the project at Eimeo Road State School.

"The Department has engaged Building and Asset Services through DHPW to manage the completion of the project at Eimeo Road State School.

"This is in aim of supporting local contractors previously employed on the project by JM Kelly Builders to have the opportunity to continue with the work at Eimeo Road State School, should they wish to do so.

"The department is working with DHPW and the Administrator with a view to expedite recommencement of the construction of the project.

"Given the matter is in the hands of administrators, it is not appropriate for the department to comment further at this time."

The department today could not confirm when the contract for Eimeo State School was issued.

The Department of Housing and Public Works was not able to respond to questions by close of business today.



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