STAT DEC: Former Rockhampton MP Robert Schwarten.
STAT DEC: Former Rockhampton MP Robert Schwarten. Allan Reinikka ROK061118aschwart

Schwarten: 'Guilty people don't normally run to the police'

ROBERT Schwarten has stood down from the board of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission after taking extraordinary steps to clear his name following allegations against him in state parliament last year.

Yesterday, the former Member for Rockhampton, advised he had referred himself to Queensland's Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) for further investigation in a bid to resolve the issue.

He again denied receiving any favours from former JM Kelly boss Geoff Murphy, revealing he is among the hundreds owed following the construction company's collapse.

He told The Morning Bulletin he had ordered $225 of mirrored glass from a JM Kelly company days before the liquidation was announced.

Late last year, Burleigh MP Michael Hart claimed under Parliamentary privilege that Mr Schwarten used taxpayer funds to pay for a paint job at his Kinka Beach home.

Mr Schwarten has always vehemently rejected the allegation, presenting statutory declarations from the contractors who did complete the job and were paid by Mr Schwarten.

 

Robert Schwarten's house on the Capricorn Coast
Robert Schwarten's house on the Capricorn Coast Christine Mckee

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Mr Schwarten was at the time of the claims sitting on the board of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission but in December he approached the board chair, Dick Williams and advised he would stand aside.

Mr Schwarten said he did not attend any meetings, but did not formally stand aside until Thursday.

"I thought it was appropriate to stand aside and do so publicly and announce that I've referred myself and stand aside until such time as I get a 'yay' or 'nay' (from the CCC)," he said yesterday.

"I don't want to place the QBCC in any sort of jeopardy with conflict of interest."

Mr Schwarten said he would have "gladly" formally stood aside sooner.

He said the CCC may decline to investigate the matter.

"(But) at the end of the day I've done everything I can," he said.

"That's all you take beyond the grave with you, is your integrity.

"All sorts of speculation will take place. It's far better that I distance myself from that while the CCC makes up its mind.

"Guilty people don't normally run to the police."

Mr Schwarten has never denied having a good relationship with Mr Murphy, and yesterday confirmed that while they were friends he had never been offered or asked for any favours.

"I've never asked for anything for nothing and I never would," he said.

The Kelly Group of companies have also denied doing free work for Mr Schwarten.

QBCC staff have been told of Mr Schwarten stepping down.

Board chair Dick Williams yesterday said he hoped Mr Schwarten would rejoin the body.

''Mr Schwarten advised me he had referred himself to the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) and has asked the CCC to examine the allegations.

''Earlier today, QBCC Commissioner Brett Bassett assisted me in circulating an email to all QBCC staff to advise them of Mr Schwarten's decision.

''In my dealings with him as a member of the QBCC board, I have found him to have acted with the utmost integrity and propriety...  I look forward to his return to the QBC Board as soon as possible.''

A CCC spokesperson confirmed the matter remained under assessment. "It is important to note an assessment is not an investigation and any allegation should be treated as unsubstantiated until a final outcome is reached," he said.

"As this matter remains under assessment it is not appropriate for the CCC to comment further."



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