New Hope Coal embroiled in corruption allegations against Qld Government

Fresh allegations of back door dealing have been levelled against the Newman Government, with the Queensland’s science minister linked to the New Acland Mine Expansion.

MP Ian Walker accepted a donation of $2000 from New Hope Coal director Bill Grant before his election to the seat of Mansfield in 2012, The Guardian reported.

The $2000 personal cheque would not have been declared under rules instated by the Liberal/National party to raise the threshold for declaring contributions from $1000 to $12,400.

New Hope Coal is a subsidiary of Washington H Soul Pattinson, and both have donated more than $700,000 to the LNP between 2011 and 2013.

It has also been revelaed that the minister's daughter Alice Walker works for New Hope Coal as communications officer, hired in April last year after she worked as LNP media adviser.

Radio broadcaster Alan Jones has slammed the Newman Government over approval of the New Acland expansion, and has also criticised energy minister Mark McArdle and environment minister Andrew Powell for accepting invitations to the New Hope corporate box at a Wallabies rugby game in Brisbane in 2013.

Jones grew up near the town of Oakey on the Darling Downs, in the same area as the New Acland coal mine, and has zealously lobbied against expansion of the mine.

Walker avoided interviews with The Guardian over the matter, but made a written statement that all donations were fully disclosed in accordance with the law.

Walker was responsible for the department which approved levels of pollution from uncovered coal trains to pass through Brisbane, and was acting minister for state development during the public input phase of New Hope’s environmental impact statement for Acland.

Particulate emissions from the coal trains were found to exceed national safety levels (PM10) by a factor of ten, as many as ten times a day, according to Clean Air Queensland organiser Michael Kane.

Walker was assistant minister for planning reform before taking the science and innovation portfolio after the resignation of Ros Bates.

According to Liberal National defector Alex Douglas the Newman Government used the media to smear and remove Bates from office.

New Hope chairman Robert Millner has appeared before the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) over donations involving another company of which he was chairman, Brickworks.

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