By Amy Kelly
Former Labor Minister Gordon Nuttall has been found guilty of contempt and fined $82,000 by the Queensland Government after he appeared in Parliament today to defend the charges.
Dressed in a somber navy suit, Mr Nuttall addressed Parliament from the bar where he implored Members to forgive him for 41 charges of contempt for failing to disclose loans on his pecuniary interest register, saying he had, “maintained the register to the best of my ability”.
It was the first time a prisoner has addressed the House leading Speaker John Mikel to describe the day as historic “for all the wrong reasons”. Mr Nuttall is serving a 12 year sentence for various charges over payments received from businessmen during his time as an MP.
Despite some expectation he would use his address to indict other members of the house, Mr Nuttall said only that “there are other people in this chamber today who could easily have attracted precisely the sort of attention and examination that I was unfortunate enough to endure”.
Instead he heavily criticised the Crime and Misconduct Commission, saying its behaviour was unjust and calling for an independent judicial inquiry into the conduct and behaviour of the regulatory body.
“The CMC and the DPP have had their own agenda,” he said.
“It embarked on a campaign to ensure that I was demonised, abandoned, ridiculed, cheated and made a fool of.”
Speaker John Mikel interrupted Mr Nuttall’s criticism of the CMC several times, ruling it outside the scope of his reason for attending Parliament and asking him to address the charges.
In a speech that was at times almost poetic and drew on ancient myths, music and film quotes, Mr Nuttall outlined his defence, saying the guidelines for the register were conflicting and that he had obtained legal advice before omitting the payments.
“In living my life I have made many mistakes along the way,” he said.
“But I have never knowingly set out to do wrong.”
Mr Nuttall’s voice wavered as he closed his speech nine minutes short of the 45 minutes he had been permitted, thanking his family for their support and quoting the bible.
Mr Nuttall said he was not in a financial position to pay the $82,000 fine that would be imposed should the House vote in favor.
To punish him would amount to double jeopardy given the 12-year jail sentence he is already serving, he said.
Mr Nuttall said he “was not in a position in any way, shape or form to be able to pay such a fine” and asked the House to consider “that this unqualified apology be accepted by the House as a suitable penalty”.
AUDIO: Gordon Nuttall’s address to Parliament