Scott Driscoll

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Scott Driscoll
Member of the Queensland Parliament for Redcliffe
In office
24 March 2012 – 19 November 2013
Preceded by Lillian van Litsenburg
Succeeded by Yvette D'Ath
Personal details
Political party Liberal National (2012–2013)
Independent (2013)
Profession Business, politics.

Scott Nicolaus Driscoll (born 16 April 1975) is a former Australian businessman and politician. He was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland from March 2012 until November 2013.

Business career[edit]

Driscoll helped operate family owned small businesses and was also a financial adviser with banking institutions. He was honorary President of the Queensland Retail Traders and Shopkeepers Association, which he rebranded as the United Retail Federation.

Political career[edit]

Driscoll was elected to the Legislative Assembly at the 2012 state election representing the Liberal National Party of Queensland. He won the seat of Redcliffe from the Labor incumbent Lillian van Litsenburg with a swing of 15.67%, turning the previously marginal seat into a safe LNP seat.

On 25 March 2013 he was suspended from the LNP following allegations of impropriety.[1] He resigned from the party the following month and subsequently sat as an independent.[2]

Driscoll was the subject of complaints of official misconduct referred to the Crime and Misconduct Commission in November 2012, followed by complaints of fraud to the Queensland Police.[3][4] It was alleged that he secretly controlled the taxpayer-funded Moreton Bay Regional Community Association and had funnelled $2600 in consultancy fees each week to his wife. It was also claimed that he used his electorate office to continue his work with the Queensland Retail Traders and Shopkeepers Association, and that his wife had a contract with the retailers’ body worth $350,000 a year. Although Premier Campbell Newman initially stood by Driscoll, he personally recommended that Driscoll be suspended after concluding his failure to provide a "fulsome and precise" explanation of the affair had become a distraction.[1] His home was raided by the CMC in May 2013.[5] Driscoll's wife was charged with fraud and perjury as a result of the investigation.[6]

The allegations were referred to the Queensland Parliament Ethics Committee in June 2013.[7] While the committee's deliberations were underway, Driscoll more or less ceased attending parliament; he showed up for only a few sessions to avoid having his seat automatically declared vacant. This, combined with other factors, prompted Newman to demand that the legislature take the unprecedented step of expelling Driscoll. Annastacia Palaszczuk, leader of the Labor opposition, criticised Newman for his initial resolute support of Driscoll.[8]

On 19 November 2013, Driscoll was found guilty of 42 counts of Contempt of Parliament, four counts of failing to register interests and one count of misleading the House. The Ethics Committee recommended that:[9][10]

  • he be fined $84,000 for contempt;
  • he be fined $4,000 for failing to register interests;
  • he be fined $2,000 for misleading the House; and
  • that the Legislative Assembly move to expel Driscoll from the chamber and declare the seat of Redcliffe vacant "to protect the honour and dignity of the Legislative Authority."

The final report found that nothing short of expulsion was appropriate because Driscoll had, by his actions, "brought odium on the Legislative Assembly as an institution" and had demonstrated "a want of honesty and probity not fitting a Member of the House." [10] Premier Campbell Newman said that Driscoll had committed a "breathtaking, staggering deception on this house and the people of Queensland".[11]

Driscoll resigned from Parliament later that day, citing health reasons.[12] However, both major parties had indicated they would support an expulsion motion, making it all but certain that Driscoll would be ejected from the chamber.[10]

On 21 November 2013, Driscoll was summoned to the Bar of the House to explain his actions. His solicitor, Peter Russo, spoke on his behalf and acknowledged that Driscoll had made errors in judgment, but would have corrected his interests register and the record if not for his recently diagnosed bipolar disorder. He asked that the fine be reduced to $12,000. The Assembly was unmoved, and voted to fine him the recommended $90,000.[13] The fine was paid in full the following day.[11]

The resulting 2014 Redcliffe by-election saw the LNP lose the seat with a large swing.[14]

References[edit]

Parliament of Queensland
Preceded by
Lillian van Litsenburg
Member for Redcliffe
2012–2013
Succeeded by
Yvette D'Ath