Bligh comfortable with dinner plans

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh says she is happy for her ministers to be having dinner meetings with business leaders.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has attacked a media report suggesting a dinner hosted by mining magnate Gina Rinehart and attended by several State Ministers was in any way inappropriate.

According to a report from the Brisbane Courier-Mail, Deputy Premier Paul Lucas, Mines Minister Stephen Robertson and Speaker John Mickel had dinner last month on floating resort The World, on which Rinehart owns a residence.

Questions were raised over the integrity of the talks, with Rinehart, chairman of Hancock Prospecting and Australia’s richest woman, currently planning major projects in Queensland.

Bligh took issue with these suggestions and said she was happy for her ministers to attend such events.

“I want my ministers out there talking to business, and if that means they sometimes have to eat a Chinese meal, so be it,” she told journalists yesterday.

“What I want to see is strong and appropriate links between my ministers and my government and business.”

The dinner took place days after the Queensland Government accepted Rinehart’s application to declare an ‘infrastructure facility of significance’ on a planned train line from her two proposed mines in the State’s central-west.

Hancock Prospecting is scheduled to begin a feasibility study into the projects later this year.

Queensland Resources Coucil chief executive, Michael Roche, who was at the dinner, has also attacked media suggestions that it was anything other than an acceptable business discussion.

“I can report that far from being some clandestine gathering,” he said in a statement.

“As someone who also sat at the table, I can confirm that there was absolutely nothing inappropriate discussed.”

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