ABELL Point Marina owner Paul Darrouzet says he is taking steps to clear his name following the publishing of two articles in the national media in August.
On August 18 and 19, the Australian Financial Review ran reports claiming Mr Darrouzet was one of a “new breed” of political donors, helping to fill the coffers of the Liberal National Party (LNP).
The initial report claimed the “former coal baron turned marina operator” and largest individual donor to the Queensland LNP, gave $150,000 to the party just one week before “gaining approval to dredge near the Great Barrier Reef”.
The articles stated the donation, made last year through Mr Darrouzet’s private investment company Pondcote, was not personally declared to the Electoral Commission of Queensland, as required by law.
Producing paperwork to the contrary in his marina office this week, Mr Darrouzet said these claims were untrue.
Mr Darrouzet says he not only declared the donation but was issued with a formal receipt from the Electoral Commission of Queensland’s Assistant Director of Funding and Disclosure, David Gottke, on November 6, 2013.
He is also adamant there is no relationship between his political allegiances and dredging at Abell Point.
“Approval to dredge the marina was granted in 2003 by the State Labor Government and annual renewals are issued each year,” he said.
“Dredging will be in the Abell Point Marina, attached to the mainland – nowhere near the Great Barrier Reef [and] with all spoil used to remediate an eyesore at the entrance to Airlie Beach. To imply the long-awaited dredging and remediation of the spoils pond was the result of a political favour and will impact the Great Barrier Reef is nonsense.”
It is this perception of damage to the reef that Mr Darrouzet says has caused him the most grief, with various environmental groups and even Queensland Greens Senator, Larissa Waters, weighing into the Abell Point debate.
Defending himself, Mr Darrouzet says he has dedicated his heart and soul to the marina over the last two years “[and] the life of the marina depends on the health of the Great Barrier Reef”.
“To suggest I would secretly pay to damage any part of it is a disgrace,” he said.
Federal MP George Christensen has also voiced his opinion on the issue, saying the Abell Point Marina dredging project has been attacked by left-wing activist groups despite the fact it would have “zero impact on the reef”.
“What this proves is this – whether it’s coal, fishing, tourism or any job-creating industry, the extreme greens will oppose it,” Mr Christensen said.
As for why he chose to donate large sums of money to a political party, Mr Darrouzet said he had done so since the 1980’s and he made “no bones” about where he stood.
“I’m not going to hide or be ashamed of the things I’ve donated to – I’ve also given millions to charities including the Wesley Medical Research Institute, the Life Stream Foundation and Lions clubs of Australia,” he said.
“As long as what you believe in is legal, legitimate and proper, if you don’t support it, what’s the point.”
Mr Darrouzet says he is launching defamation action against the Australian Financial Review as a result of the articles published.
Meanwhile, a Senate Inquiry into the Queensland LNP Government, including its finances, has also been announced.