An investigation has been launched into an alleged “bounties hunter” who was allegedly paid up to $2,500 by companies who processed logs in Queensland.
Key points:Timber processors were allegedly paying up to 10 per cent of the logs they processed, according to a report by Queensland’s auditor-generalThe audit also said “bureaucratic issues” had been a factor in the paymentThe inquiry by Queensland Auditor-General Michael Dennison was launched after a submission to the Queensland Government in April said “timber processors” were “pushing” up to the “limit of their abilities” and “putting the public at risk”.
“We’ve received multiple complaints from consumers that log processing companies are demanding up to a 10 per in the dollar per log, for a project,” the report said.
“The payment is not being disclosed to the consumer and they are not told whether the amount has been paid, even though this is the only way to verify the information.”
The auditor-General said the company had “serious administrative and financial issues” that meant “there’s a risk that this payment will be compromised”.
“The fact that the logging companies are paying this money is concerning,” he said.
The Queensland Government said it was conducting an internal inquiry into the matter.
“We have referred the matter to the auditor-generals office for further investigation,” it said in a statement.
“In light of this, the Queensland Auditor General has launched an inquiry to determine whether there are any further issues relating to this payment and any breaches of the State Government’s Public Accounts Act.”
The inquiry was launched following a submission by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to the Department of Environment, Parks and Wildlife’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) in April.
In a letter to Mr Dennion, Ms Palasziuk said: “It has been alleged by the Queensland Secretary of State that timber processors are paying up at least 10 per $100,000, which are quite a lot of money to be paid to someone who can’t even be bothered to write a contract.”
Mr Dennson said the Auditor-Generals Office had also received numerous complaints from Queenslanders.””
The State Government will investigate these claims thoroughly and if the findings are to be accepted, will act to protect taxpayers from this type of activity.”
Mr Dennson said the Auditor-Generals Office had also received numerous complaints from Queenslanders.
“This is a serious issue and it’s something we want to investigate,” he told the ABC.
“It’s a matter that the Auditor General will look at and investigate, and if we come to the conclusion that there’s been any sort of fraud, it will be dealt with.”
Timber processing industry is a major industry in Queensland and processing logs to be processed into timber products.
The auditor said it had received “several complaints” from consumers and was “aware of significant problems” with the payment system.
“I’m aware of a payment system in Queensland that is a lot like the log processing industry,” he explained.
“And I’ve asked the auditor general to investigate whether there is any further information that can be given to Queensland consumers about this payment.”
Mr Palaszluk said the Government had “received a number of complaints” about the payments, and she said she would be seeking further information from the Queensland Timber Board.
“There’s a lot more that we want the Government to do, and we’ve got to get on with it,” she said.
Timber processor ‘paid’ up to 15 per cent’The Queensland auditor-convener said he had been told by “a number of people” that “a timber processing company paid a certain amount” to a timber processing agent in a bid to “protect” them from “people trying to gouge them”.
The auditor confirmed he had heard of the payments from “a variety of sources”.
“It has not been confirmed by the parties involved that this is a payment by any logging company,” he wrote.
Timbers are processed into lumber products and then sold at a profit to consumers.”
A timber processing contract between the two parties would be unlikely to be valid if this was the case.”
Timbers are processed into lumber products and then sold at a profit to consumers.