Thursday 20 May 2010

Cairns LNP key identities in lockdown over financial mis-management claims

A warts and all 10-page private letter to LNP party president Bruce McIver last September, signed by 15 Cairns' party officials, has been tabled in the Queensland State Parliament, and is now subject to a police investigation.

"Today I am writing to the police minister and providing him with this documentation which has recently come into my possession," former LNP MP Rob Messenger, told Parliament just after midday yesterday.

The 10-page letter, also obtained by CairnsBlog, dated 21 September 2009 to Bruce McIver, President of the Liberal National Party, exposes issues of alleged financial mis-management of LNP's Far North Queensland region.

"The issues are centering around Dennis Quick [pictured right], with some concerns also regarding the position of the regional chair, Warren Entsch," Rob Messenger told Parliament. "I am asking that the police minister refer this document to his commissioner so that an investigation into the serious and unanimous concerns of 15 executive members of the Far North branch of the LNP, can be carried out."

Dennis Quick is LNP's Regional Liaison Officer and is managing Warren Entsch's 2010 election campaign.

Among the 15 signatories is Murray Ferguson, who is secretary of the Barron River committee, and a Federal Police fraud investigator.

Messenger says that no investigation was ever undertaken following the letter, and also says that Barry O’Sullivan, the LNP treasurer entered into bullying, abusive phone calls and threats of legal action, against local Cairns-based members. It's a claim that former LNP MP Aidan McLindon concurs with. He says the LNP state treasurer Barry O’Sullivan swore repeatedly and intimidated him during a disciplinary meeting. In a statutory declaration he says O’Sullivan said “I have never been so fucking angry in my fucking life, and you’re lucky you’re still fucking here you little shit.”

Rob Messenger says if the LNP is so keen to ensure honesty and accountability in the political process as witnessed by its secret committee investigations, why has it failed to investigate and tried to cover up the unanimous concerns of 15 of its senior executive LNP members in North Queensland? "It is now up to senior members of the LNP to explain what they knew about the allegations of impropriety and what steps they have taken to protect the hard-worked-for finances of the grassroots members of the LNP," Messenger says.

Rob Messenger is no stranger exposing what he sees as corruption and mis-management. In 2005 he lead the charge, revealing the horrific incidents involving surgeon Jayant Patel at Bundaberg Base Hospital.

Among some of the allegations in the leaked LNP letter, are...
  • "Cheque Number 205971 for $2,860.00 was paid to Dennis Quick on 24th March 2009 (and cleared same day) to reimburse him for payment to Ramco - Inv No 0316504 yet Ramco have no record of payment of this invoice by Dennis Quick or anyone else - certainly not prior to that time. Dennis Quick did not provide any receipt to the Treasurer, only the invoice as justification for reimbursement. This needs further investigation, but is clearly at the very least an unsatisfactory process in that the treasurer should not have been required to write a cheque to reimburse anyone without the appropriate paper work."

  • "Cheque Number 205952 for $638.95 dated 9th February 2009 was reimbursement for Dennis Quick for the purchase of a portable pocket projector and a set of speakers which members of the Region have not ever seen used for Party business."

Yesterday I asked Dennis Quick about some of the questions raised.

"The only comment I will make is the matter was thoroughly investigated, and it was found that I engaged in no malpractice of any nature," Dennis Quick said. In response to suggestions that some transactions were routed through his own consulting company, Options North, Quick defiantly said "Nope."

Some party members told CairnsBlog late yesterday that a special function held for Tony Abbott required payments to be made out to "Options North", including Wendy Richardson's brother who attended the function.

Invoices and requests for payments from Cairns photographer Doug Drummond were ignored for over nine months.

"[Dear Wendy, Vic & Joel, ...despite repeated requests to secure a payment... it appears that all my approaches via Dennis Quick (and through him, your party treasurer) have fallen on deaf ears, to the point of contempt with myself.... I have been forced by the contemptuous attitude of the LNP machine toward me," Doug Drummond wrote in September last year:-

"The chiefs from down south even talked with me about this at the time," Doug Drummond told CairnsBlog yesterday. Asked if the account had been paid, Drummond said that Wendy Richardson paid the bill personally. "I think she's good value, I think she's worth looking at as an independent."

The detailed letter contains many serious allegations levelled against LNP heavyweights Warren Entsch and Dennis Quick. It suggests that some businesses were not being paid for outstanding invoices.

Other allegations reveal that the Cairns LNP office was leased for $1,500 a month which the party couldn't afford because fundraising was not meeting expectations. The letter says three female FNQ treasurers for the party were "subjected to a form of bullying" so that they would sign cheques without sufficient documentation.

One cheque for printing corflutes for $25,000 was written out without reference to specific invoices. "We have been told by the proprietor of Ramco [Print] that Dennis Quick requested that they provide all invoices to the LNP in the name of Options North, his company. This was not acceded to by Ramco and is not seen as an appropriate request by party members," the letters states.

Dennis Quick is a veteran political stalwart, who has been a member of the National Party for many years, and overseen countless election campaigns. He served as executive assistant to former Cairns Mayor, Kevin Byrne. Quick is also a close friend of Leichhardt candidate Warren Entsch, whose campaign he is currently managing.

Warren Entsch told CairnsBlog late yesterday the letter was orchestrated by Wendy Richardson.

"She got a whole lot of members sign it on her say so," Warren Entsch said. "She was a bit disillusioned about what happened, and blamed Dennis [Quick] for her [election] loss primarily."

"She thought that her opportunity to go again, was going to be undermined by him [Quick]. It [the letter] was totally investigated independently and was found to be without foundation whatsoever. Most of those signatories are now senior members of the party. We've moved on. We're doing brilliantly," Warren Entsch said. "Wendy, for her actions, was asked to step aside from all her executive positions, and I forbid her, for what she'd done, for other things as well, to be involved in my campaign."

Entsch also disputes that any LNP transactions were put through Dennis Quick's own company.

"That's absolutely not true. Everything was accounted. I mean there was a very comprehensive, I mean, she made allegations, and at the end of the day, those allegations were proven to be without foundation," Entsch said. "They bypassed me because they thought I was a mate of Dennis', which I was. There was then an independent investigation. People then asked if they could have there name taken off [the letter] when they suddenly smelt a rat. When it was dealt with, everyone accepted the decision. There were a few administrative things that needed to be tightened up, which have been done. It was more about communication, but nothing to do with impropriety or anything like that."

Wendy Richardson reiterated her reasons why she resigned from the party to run as an independent. "I believe the organisation is hampered by the baggage it is carrying from the past. There is also an unhealthy, undemocratic control currently exerted by a few individuals in the organisational wing of the party. Unfortunately, I cannot see this changing in the near future," Richardson told CairnsBlog.

Quick's Northern Watch blog, which was last updated in August 2009, ironically asks in an online poll: "Should there be a Royal Commission into the allegations of systemic corruption in public administration in Queensland?" Such a question now seems prolific and could come to haunt his own party right here in Cairns.

I don't think we've seen the end of this story.

Such leaking of highly sensitive dirty laundry, will not do the relatively new political party much good, for those seeking a credible alternative to Labor. These shenanigans seriously undermine party growth and loyalty, whilst challenging public and internal accountability and transparency.

This weekend the LNP will hold their AGM, which is expected to see members call for more transparency and a forensic audit of the accounts. Some members contacted by CairnsBlog are also considering tendering their resignation to the meeting.

Vic Black, Leichhardt FDC chair; Hillary Newton, FNQ Regional and FDC treasurer; Anne Jackson, secretary Leichhardt FDC; Darren Delanely, immediate past chair, Leichhardt FDC; Wendy Richardson, FNQ Regional vice chair; Jen Sackley, chair regional woman's division; Murray Ferguson, secretary Barron River FEC; Craig Batchelor, chair Cook SEC; Clint Betts, treasurer Cairns SEC; Katrina Breen, chair Cairns branch and secretary regional woman; Louise Robertson, treasurer Cairns Branch and regional woman, secretary YLNP; Jake Roberstson, chair Cairns YLNP, vice chair, Cairns SEC; Vickie Farquhar, secretary Mulgrave SEC; Rob Farquhar, treasurer Mulgrave SEC.

Vikki Kippin-O'Connor, chair Innisfail branch; Dennis Dillon, chair Mulgrave SEC; and John Giaimo, chair Cairns SEC didn't sign the letter.

John Vickery signed and submitted a separate letter of his own concerns.


A Real Liberal said...

The LNP is losing its bright young members, and it's easy to see why - yesterday's men, particularly Entsch, Byrne and Quick, are incapable of recognizing that their time has come and gone.

They have presided over successive electoral disasters at all 3 levels of govt. We will never have the serious alternative to Labor that we so badly need so long as these booze-faced obese old duffers keep their stranglehold on the local party.

Entsch's candidacy is a gift for Jim Turnour, Wendy's resignation is a great boost to Steve Wettenhall, and KB leading a team would be Val's dearest wish.

It is also clear that these blokes, the last remnants of the white-shoe brigade, are unable to separate their personal business interests from their political ambitions. We can only hope that LNP supporters will actually join the party and get rid of these self-interested anachronisms.

Warren Entsch's abuse of his free flight entitlements to boost his Leichhardt campaign should be grounds enough for the rank and file to dump him.

Mike's post refers to Wendy Richardson's brother, presumably Bob Norman. I can understand why he doesn't want a bar of this LNP debacle - unlike Entsch, Byrne and Quick, he doesn't look at the world through the bottom of a whisky glass.

Johnny on Grafton Street said...

Outstanding reporting on your website, Mike, you have given all the major players an opportunity to comment and this is important to good journalism.

Well done.

Frankie James said...

I was following this story on WIN TV and 7 News last nite (Trent did a good report) but it's really good to see Warren's take on all this.

Very damaging for the LNP and we god dam need a better choice that Turnour up here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have met Mr Quick at some functions ages ago and always found him very nice.......but I had heard about the way things were run interenally.

Sad but truue

Lance Royce said...

LNP Members Rallies against Dennis Quick's Mis-Management of the Party in Cairns?

(From Lance Royce's Blog Northern Truth - Friday, October 9, 2009.

"Apparently local LNP members here in Cairns have complained to there corrupt LNP Brisbane mates, that local LNP political hack Dennis Quick management style is driving members from the Party and has caused unrest with what remains of the membership. That Quick the former National Party stalwart and lackey to former Cairns Mayor Kevin Byrne has divided the LNP by moving former National members into positions of control over former Liberal Party members.

This is not the first time I have heard these grumblings, his handling of the last Queensland State election was a joke and a misguided farce. Polling booths went unmanned and voting material failed to make it to the polling booths and as usual former Liberal Party members had to carry the work load as former National Parry workers were no where to be found on election day.

After the State election, the slow take over by the former Nationals of the Liberal Party proceeded until the complaints to LNP HQ this month brought the LNP executive director to Cairns to try and bring the two sides together.

No information was available regarding the out come of the secret meeting on Wednesday or Thursday night. Local LNP members who attended the meeting were told, "Not to speak with the media under penalty of suspension from the Party." This is typical LNP communication with the media, threats and intimidation of the membership if they speak to us.

And that's The Northern Truth!!

John Mackenzie's Wig (out on loan) said...

Well who we gunna vote for now!!!??? Wendy-three-times-loser-Richardson, Steve-Wet-and-no-balls; Desley-????-Boyle....?????

William at Woree said...

Hhahahh Lance seems to know this was all going to custard last year....

Al said...

I always thought that 'Entsch' and 'stench' when coupled in reference to Warren was that he was always a bit on the nose (I once had the misfortune to sit next to him BNE to CNS), or more simply - that it rhymed. Having read this, I see that might be wrong. said...

The Quicker Quick goes the better for the Party

James Jaye said...

This is a BIG story and I'm gald this website has given it a substancial coverage. I first checkled the Cairns Post article - but like Chinese food, was hungrry for more at the end!

The 7 News report was all over in 30 secs it seemed.

Amazing that there's no love loss bettween Warren E and Wendy R

I look forwrad to the next part on Cairnsblog


Syd Walker said...

Excellent reporting Mike. Richly ironic, as only yesterday you were being accused of running a pro-LNP blog.

Just goes to show you can only please half the hacks half of the time...

Since the letter has been tabled in Parliament - and as you apparently have a copy - how about posting it on the site?

Rosy Bryant said...

Nice to see another big story with loads of detail and real comments from the main players / culprits.

I expect this will be a disaster fro the LNP - although, as they say, a week is a long time in politics and this will be old news come (State) election time.

Just depends how many jump or leave or are internally battered and angry and will not be faithful after all this being exposed.

Once again thanks for bringing such good detail into the public arena

Cairns voter said...

good move LNP thanks to Quick and Stensch we'll now have Labor in power for 3 more years. Obviously Quick will go from all this, but time for Warren to stand down for the sake of the party too.
All the old members who voted for this bum hang your heads in shame

Raymond Selwyn said...

The LNP will easily survive this.

This will blow over and Turnour will be booted out and we'll get Wazza in. No question. He's history.

It's a storm in a tea cup - or maybe an average-sized coffee mug.

Carole said...

Once again Mike - thanks for good reporting & loads of detail.

To paraphrase an Oliver Hardy line (now that shows my age)"That's another fine mess the LNP have got themselves into". They seem to lurch from crisis to disaster with ultimate ease.

End it All Eddy said...

I voted LNP last time and now look what I'm stuck with... (S)ENTSCH of TURNOUR....

Where's that razor blade?

Anne said...

No one convince,coerced or forced me to sign "the letter",and as far as I know,that goes for all who signed it. Wrong again,Warren. We all signed it willingly!

Al said...

If you saw Channel 7 news on TV tonight, a very dignified Jim Turnour confronted by what can only be described as a disgraceful rabble (protesting public housing at Bluewater and Palm Cove). This lot have just made themselves a lost cause!
And to 'End it all Eddy': Your choice is; a well mannered gentleman (who tends to mumble), or a recycled spittle-spraying slob seeking to further gorge himself at the public trough. I know who I prefer.

Thinkaboutit said...

Funny I saw people at the end of their tether knowing their well earned homes are worth stuff all , due to the federal and state labor governments stupidity building homes for PEOPLE THAT HAVE BLUDGED OF OUR TAXES in the wrong location.
And a dickhead that is a mumbling fool , give me a spittle spraying intelligent bloke that says what is right everytime , and dickhead is no gentlman he just is too stupid to think of a reply.
The fool versus the brain give me the brain.
Three high profile members in a week means dickhead is gone so all your propaganda will not help him.