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Grace Grace MP speaking during estimates hearings at Parliament. Picture: Tara Croser.

Fiery exchange over principal recruitment investigation

Queensland’s education minister has refused to reveal who the "mystery MP" embroiled in a corruption investigation alongside former deputy premier Jackie Trad was during a fiery hearing on Wednesday morning.

Grace Grace was grilled about the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) report in relation to claims Trad had interfered with the recruitment of a principal at the Inner City South State Secondary College.

The report revealed an unnamed minister asked Trad if she would meet with a potential candidate for the principal position as a “favour”.

The investigation led to Trad resigning her ministerial duties as treasurer and deputy premier despite the CCC clearing her of any wrongdoing.

But Grace refused to reveal the identity of the "mystery MP" during a budget estimates hearing on Wednesday, despite a grilling from opposition integrity spokesperson Fiona Simpson and opposition education spokesperson Christian Rowan.

“Surely you would have familiarised yourself with the circumstances where there’s been allegations of inappropriate approaches by members of the parliament trying to go around the processes of recruitment,” Simpson said before demanding, “who is the mystery MP?”.

The opposition integrity spokesperson refused to let the issue go, accusing the Labor MPs on the hearing committee of running a “protection racket” when she was asked to move on and was handed two warnings.

Grace eventually gave more detail about the CCC report but again refused to reveal who the unnamed minister was.

“I might be able to defuse this ridiculous performance and I’m happy to answer the question,” she said, interrupting a fiery encounter between a number of ministers on the committee.

“The line of questioning is ridiculous. I’m sure that if the CCC thought that it was worthwhile or felt that it was necessary to put names in the report, nothing would have prevented them from doing so.

“So this line of questioning is laughable and I am still answering in the same way – if they want to know who the mystery person was, then I suggest they write to the CCC and ask under proper processes.”

The education minister said she was regularly approached by ministers from both sides of politics seeking assistance on principals in their local schools.

“Sometimes they’re unhappy that they’re temporary, sometimes they would like not to have them moved, sometimes they would like to have a different principal and this comes from all sides of the house.

“And my answer to them is always the same: This is an operational matter. If you have issues you should talk with your regional officers.

“That CCC report investigated one situation.”

When Grace was again interjected by Simpson, the education minister snapped back: “The only laughing matter here is your performance.”

Trad failed in her re-election bid in the seat of South Brisbane at the October state election, losing to Greens candidate Amy MacMahon.

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