Timothy Pullen killer Benjamin Oakley to be free this month
QUEENSLAND Corrective Services Minister Mark Ryan has avoided a no-confidence motion, with only Speaker Peter Wellington standing between the State Government and a fifth parliamentary defeat this week.
Mr Ryan survived the no confidence motion by just one vote, with Speaker Peter Wellington using his casting vote to side with the Government.
Labor and the two Katter's Australian Party MPs voted against the motion, while the LNP, One Nation and independents Rob Pyne and Billy Gordon voted for the motion.
The narrow win also prevented Labor from suffering an embarrassing another lost parliamentary vote, after already losing four this sitting week.
The motion was moved by Tim Mander after the controversial decision to release one of Timothy Pullen's killers was today upheld.
Timothy was killed in 2012 but his body has never been found.
Benjamin Oakley will be released on November 13, despite Mr Ryan saying a week ago he was "comforted" the Parole Board would conduct a review of the case. The initial decision to release Oakley was made days before "no body, no parole" legislation passed.
Timothy's parents, Gary and Leanne, fought to have the laws introduced in the hope that one of their son's killers would reveal where they hid his body.
"I appeal to the Premier to show moral leadership and to stand the Minister for Corrective Services down," Mr Mander said.
"How could any family of a victim of a crime have confidence that this Minister has their back.
"I urge the house to show Queenslanders that this sort of behaviour from a minister of the Crown."
Mr Mander said Mr Ryan had shown a complete lack of moral leadership in his dealings with the Pullens.
"Whilst the Minister may have been bound by confidentiality, if he had just an ounce of decency he would not have invited them to the press conference," Mr Mander said.
"You just don't do that to people."
Mr Mander said the Minister "dangled false hope" in front of the Pullens by suggesting the decision to grant Oakley parole would be reviewed in light of the "no body, no parole" legislation being passed.Health Minister Cameron Dick, speaking against the no confidence motion, said everyone in public office had to uphold the law
"It is a solemn and serious responsibility," he said.
"We are bound by law not to reveal all we know.
"There are confidences we are compelled to keep and information we are prohibited from sharing.
"The law binds all of us."
Mr Dick also praised Mr Ryan's work since becoming a minister 10 months ago.
"The member for Morayfield (Mr Ryan) ...is as diligent and industrious as any minister in this house," he said.
Mrs Pullen said she was at breaking point after hearing of Oakley's release.
"I am feeling so disheartened, disillusioned and angry. And anger is not an emotion I normally deal with," she said.
"It has turned into a great debacle. Who are the winners? The only winner here is Oakley."
The Pullens earlier agreed to a plea deal, which saw Timothy's killers plead guilty to lesser charges, in exchange for taking police to find his remains.
But despite two of the guilty men accompanying police on a drive to a remote area of bushland, Timothy was not found.
The case sparked controversy earlier this month when two cabinet ministers posed for photographs with the Pullens after the new laws passed. Mr Ryan, who had been told by the Parole Board that Oakley had been granted release, did not tell the parents as they shook hands and smiled for the cameras.
A public servant whistleblower who told The Australian about the decision to release Oakley has been stood down and the matter referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission.
Corrective Service Minister Mark Ryan said today that all decisions by the parole board were made independently and without political interference.
"While I cannot interfere with decisions of the independent parole board, personally I do feel disappointed in the decision," he said in a written statement.
"I can understand why the Pullens feel the way they do."
Mr Ryan said all questions around the final decision to release a prisoner on parole need to be directed to the parole board.
Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said the decision to release Oakley was "a terrible travesty of justice".
Mr Nicholls said Mr Ryan had used the Pullens as political pawns.
"He's had the outright gall to stand beside them at a press conference in an attempt to promote changes to the laws that the Pullens thought would have given them the location of their son's body so they could do the right thing (and) send him on his way," he said.
"And then hope has been held out to them - a false hope - with comments made by Mark Ryan that a review could take place and the review would see the new laws apply."But that hope, today, has turned out to be hollow as well."
Mr Nicholls said Mr Ryan's behaviour was shameful.
"This is a poor reflection on the operation of this Government. It's a poor reflection on the standard of this minister and it's a poor reflection on Annastacia Palaszczuk that she continues to stand behind a minister in this fashion," he said.
Referring to the Opposition's motion of no confidence in Mr Ryan before the house Mr Nicholls said: "The Premier should listen to the opinion of the house if the no confidence motion is successful.
"The Premier, in convention, should dismiss the police minister and should appoint someone who won't act in such a tawdry fashion."
Shadow Corrective Services Minister Tim Mander said the Palaszczuk Government's treatment of the Pullens was "nothing short of bloody disgraceful".
"The grieving Pullen family has suffered another crushing blow.
"This decision makes a mockery of Police Minister Mark Ryan's pledge to review the initial decision.
"All the Pullens want is to say goodbye to their son and give him the dignity of a proper burial, something that has now been ripped away."
Mr Mander also criticised the decision to refer Paul Turner - the man who disclosed the information to the media - to the Crime and Corruption Commission.
"Instead of owning up and taking responsibility for their actions, Labor decided to target the brave whistleblower who lifted the lid on this shameful exploitation of a grieving family," he said.