By Kieran Marsh and Jin Kok
Former Queensland Government minister Gordon Nuttall will speak publicly in Parliament on Thursday for the first time since being convicted and jailed for corruption.
After two years in a maximum security prison, Nuttall will become the first criminal to address the Parliament.
Independent Member for Burnett Rob Messenger, who led the push for Nuttall to be heard, says it will be a historic day for Queensland.
“The issues that he will be addressing and the surrounding issues are of such importance to Queensland,” Mr Messenger said.
“We’ve not seen this level of corruption since the Fitzgerald days and these allegations, they’re absolutely explosive.”
Nuttall is expected to be led into the chamber in handcuffs before being given 45 minutes to address the Parliament.
Premier Anna Bligh says Nuttall is merely trying to shift the blame.
Mr Messenger believes Nuttall’s influence in the previous Beattie Labor government demands his statement be taken seriously.
“At the height of his corrupt activities, Nuttall commanded extraordinary affection, respect and influence over the highest levels of both this and previous governments,” Mr Messenger said.
Channel 10 state political editor Cathy Border says the address is unprecedented in her time as part of the Parliamentary press core.
“This is pretty fascinating stuff, a minister who used to be very high ranking in the government ranks, now getting the chance to appear before the House and say what he really thinks, albeit around a pretty rigid parameter,” she said.
Ms Border says Speaker John Mickel will play a crucial role in ensuring tomorrow’s proceedings adhere to strict Parliamentary guidelines.
“I think this will be the toughest gig of his career in the Speaker’s job… Mr Nuttall has the floor, no-one is allowed to interrupt, not the Premier, Opposition Leader, no-one, the Speaker has full control,” she said.
Bond University Professor Gerard Carney says Nuttall will be afforded full parliamentary privilege and is free to say what he likes, provided he remains within the Speaker’s conventions.
“Any member of Parliament or any witness to the Parliament itself enjoys absolute privilege from any legal proceedings in respect to what they say within the House itself,” Professor Carney said.
Mr Messenger says those quick to dismiss Nuttall as a liar should consider Queensland’s history before dispelling tomorrow’s statement.
“Isn’t Queensland very grateful that people peddling that line weren’t advising Tony Fitzgerald, the star witness at the Fitzgerald inquiry who was the same as Nuttall who was a self-confessed criminal and liar, but look at the good that came out of that inquiry,” he said.