Queensland Sports Minister Bill Byrne admits to ‘error’ in asking controversial MP Billy Gordon represent him

Queensland Sports Minister Bill Byrne has admitted asking controversial independent MP Billy Gordon to stand in for him at official engagements was the “wrong thing to do”.

Mr Gordon quit Labor in March, before he was expelled for concealing his criminal history.

Despite the controversy, Mr Byrne said he had asked Mr Gordon, as well as other independents and crossbenchers, to represent him at events when he had a “pressed schedule”.

In August, Mr Gordon opened a tennis centre for Mr Byrne in his north Queensland electorate and delivered a speech, written by the department, at the September opening of a motorcycle club.

Mr Byrne said he acted on the advice of staff and the department, and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was “completely and utterly ignorant of the matter”.

“We were pressed to find people to represent us at various facilities in Queensland,” Mr Byrne told ABC 612 Brisbane.

“It was put to me, which I accepted, that perhaps we might like to spread the to the independents and crossbench.

“I said that was fine, given that we wanted to get these facilities opened up and available to the community. We were unable to meet or our obligations.

“At the time it didn’t [ring alarm bells]. It didn’t occur to me the immediate implications.

“In retrospect of course it was the wrong thing to do. This was an error, I’ve admitted full responsibility.”

Ms Palaszczuk said she had no idea Mr Gordon had performed Government duties in the state’s far north.

“I have spoken to the Minister in question… I have made it very clear that only Government members will represent Ministers,” she said.

Deputy Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek said that on the contrary, the Premier appeared to back Mr Gordon’s presence at such events.

“In fact, it looks like they’re condoning his behaviour by writing his speeches and not cutting ties instead letting him cut ribbons,” he said.

Katter Party MP Shane Knuth and independent Peter Wellington had also had speeches prepared for them.

Source: ABC News