Thursday, January 20, 2022

Rogue Corruption watchdog drops charges against high-profile former mayor

More evidence of their incompetence and dubious motivations. MacSporran must go. See

Misconduct charges brought against a former mayor by Queensland’s corruption watchdog have been dropped.

Former Moreton Bay Mayor Allan Sutherland was facing two counts of misconduct in public office until the crown today offered no evidence on the charges which were dismissed by Magistrate Mark Nolan.

He had been accused of influencing council over a road upgrade past his property and lobbying councillors in relation to a planning scheme.

It’s the latest setback for the Crime and Corruption Commission who charged Mr Sutherland following an investigation.

He was charged and suspended as mayor of the Moreton Bay Regional Council in December 2019.

The Crown had alleged that while mayor he influenced a councillor and/or council employees to change the scope and timing of an upgrade to a road that runs past a property he owns.

At the time council was developing Moreton Bay Sporting Complex at the opposite end of Sutherland’s property on Paradise Rd in Burpengary.

The Crown also alleged he lobbied councillors to change proposed amendments to the planning scheme, as it related to service stations, to assist a future development.

Crown prosecutor Sarah Farnden said the decision to offer no evidence was made after considering submissions from Sutherland’s legal team and a recent appeal decision.

Sutherland’s barrister declined to comment outside court.

Today’s dismissal of the charges mirrors the CCCs collapsed case against eight Logan councillors it had charged with fraud, which triggered a parliamentary inquiry into the corruption fighting body.

The hearing lasted less than five minutes


Novavax has been provisionally approved for use in Australia, which health authorities hope will drive Covid-19 vaccine rates close to 100 per cent

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Therapeutic Goods Administration had given the final tick to the vaccine, making it the first Covid-19 protein vaccine to receive regulatory approval.

The TGA said Novavax was approved for use in Australians 18 years and older, with two doses given three weeks apart.

At this stage, Novavax is only approved for use as a primary course and not for boosters.

Mr Hunt said there were 51 million units of the vaccine on order.

“Obviously we have a first dose national vaccination rate of 95.2 per cent, and we know some people have waited for Novavax,” Mr Hunt said.

“Hopefully this will encourage those people in that less than five per cent to come forward and be vaccinated.”


Controversial Qld MP George Christensen steps down from parliamentary role amid vax stance backlash

Controversial Queensland MP George Christensen will step down from a lucrative parliamentary role amid increasing pressure on the government to admonish the politician for spreading vaccine misinformation.

But the retiring Mackay-based MP said the decision to step down as chair of the joint standing committee on trade and investment growth was one he made himself, and not because of a “demand or request from any third party”.

“When I return to Parliament House on Monday 7 February, I will be advising the Speaker that I intend to stand down as the chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth, a decision of my own making and not a demand or request from any third party,” he wrote on social media.

The move comes hours after Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce refused to confirm whether or not Mr Christensen would be removed as committee chair.

“I’m not going to go into those deliberations even though I have been in discussions with the Prime Minister this morning about those issues,” he said

Mr Christensen, in promoting an episode of his podcast, inferred parents should not get their children vaccinated against Covid-19 – comments the Prime Minister has labelled “dangerous”.

Mr Joyce, in Brisbane on Wednesday, did confirm he had spoken to the Nationals-aligned Mackay-based MP earlier in the day and on Tuesday. He declined to provide details about the chat.

“His comments are not backed up by the medical evidence of people proficient in that field, and therefore his comments are at odds with me,” Mr Joyce said.


Unemployment lowest since GFC at 4.2pc

Usually over 5%

The unemployment rate has smashed expectations falling to a record low in December of 4.2 per cent, the lowest since the GFC.

The number of employed increased by 64,800, a monthly change of 0.5 per cent. While the underemployment rate fell 1.9 per cent to 6.6 per cent. The participation rate remained constant at 66.1 per cent.

The positive figures continued the tightening of the Australian labour market, after the rate fell to 4.6 per cent in November. It has raised expectations that the Reserve Bank of Australia will increase the cash rate earlier than anticipated.

Taken in the first two weeks of December, however, the labour force figures didn’t take in the full extent of the Omicron outbreak.

The Australian dollar jumped more than 10 basis points on the news to US72.32c, its highest point in two months.




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