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Apr

Norsefire Burning - 2nd Summary


Written by David Marler
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Summary 2: QIRC Update
(Norsefire Burning - The Tale of the LNP's Failed Redcliffe Faction)


April 15, 2013

BRISBANE, The Courier Mail reports Industrial Registrar, Gary Savill announced that enough evidence had been presented to him in order for an inquiry to proceed into the financial dealings of retailers' union, Queensland Retail Traders and Shopkeepers' Association (QRTSA).

IGA store owner and QRTSA executive committee member, John Hockings had lodged several complaints against Queensland State LNP MP for Redcliffe, Scott Driscoll. He alleged Driscoll acted improperly as president of the organisation resulting in financial maladministration.

At question was the disposal of several assets including the sale of the organisation's $550,000 premises in the Brisbane suburb of Kelvin Grove. Driscoll had maintained that the funds had been used to pay down QRTSA debt but had ignored calls to produce financial records. Driscoll and secretary Bruce Mills had also been granted a ruling exempting QRTSA from supplying to the QIRC any financial records or 'prescribed information' dating back to 1996.

The nature of Hockings' complaint was that Driscoll's wife Emma had been elected as new President of QRTSA at a September meeting to which he and other members had been deliberately excluded.  The meeting also saw Driscoll's long time associate, Bruce Mills, elected secretary.

The legal team acting for Hockings stated, "Since April 2010 he was never informed of any meetings of the QRTSA, its executive or its members. Although eligible he has never been invited to participate in any election. All his efforts to speak to Mr Scott Driscoll, the then executive director, or Ms Emma Driscoll, a person who now claims to be the president of the QRTSA, have been unsuccessful."

Registrar Savill also noted a discrepancy in QRTSA member numbers. 835 were listed in the registry of members but this contradicted the 164 members supplied to Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ).  This indicated irregularities in the QRTSA election process.

Registrar Savill stated in his finding, "It would appear that other persons who were members (and perhaps financial members) as at 31 December 2012 may have been removed from QRTSA's Register. I am satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to inquire whether there has been an irregularity in the election and I am satisfied that the circumstances justify an inquiry."

Hockings also lodged a complaint to lift the ruling preventing QRTSA financial information being sent to the QIRC. He alleged that when deputy president of the Commission, Adrian Bloomfield made the original ruling he had been 'misled as to the true facts'. The submission made by Driscoll and Mills had never been approved by the executive committee at QRTSA and Hockings would have opposed it.

Hockings stated, "Had the honourable member been aware of the situation ... he would not have approved the application."

The QIRC met on Friday 12th, 2013 and heard from industrial advocate Colin Dorber, acting on behalf of Hockings. He told the Commission that Driscoll had been ineligible to hold the position of President at QRTSA under their own rules. He and others had improperly disposed of the union's building, two cars and other assets.

Also, a document had been filed with the QIRC in September 2011 which stated that John Hockings had resigned from the executive committee. This was untrue and 'grossly defective.'

Presiding Commissioner Bloomfield agreed and stated that there may be other members of the executive who'd had resignation letters lodged. He sanctioned an order enabling Hockings to access QRTSA documents.

QRTSA's legal team pleaded with the Commission not to allow Hockings lawyers to 'embark on a general fishing expedition'.

The proceeding was adjourned to a later date.

The Driscoll affair currently involves six investigations:

Norsefire Burning

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