Nuttall's daughter evicted in `vendetta'


THE daughter of former Queensland cabinet minister Gordon Nuttall and four of his grandchildren will be evicted from the home he provided for them, after the jailed politician struck a deal with prosecutors to return corrupt payments from late mining tycoon Ken Talbot.
And to compound the family's woes, Nuttall is set to become the first serving prisoner to be called before the Bar of the state parliament to explain why he should not be hit with tens of thousands of dollars in additional fines.
The moves have outraged Nuttall's adult children -- whom he purported to want to help in taking $360,000 in secret commissions from Talbot -- and prompted them to break the silence they have maintained since he was jailed a year ago.
His daughter Kim, a separated mother of four, said the additional $72,000 fine recommended by the Queensland parliament's integrity, ethics and parliamentary privileges committee amounted to a ``vendetta'' against Nuttall, who was already paying his debt to society.
The foreshadowed fine represents $2000 for each of the corrupt payments he received from Talbot, who died in a plane crash in west Africa last month.
Ms Nuttall, 34, will be evicted from her father's beachfront home at Woodgate, on the Fraser coast 350km north of Brisbane, under the agreement he reached last week with the Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions to pay $687,980.04 in restitution and court costs.
Nuttall also agreed that a further $241,500 be set aside, should he be convicted on a second round of corruption-related charges, set to go to trial in Brisbane in September.
Ms Nuttall said yesterday the family needed to stay in the house at Woodgate because her older children went to a local school. She would struggle to be able to afford rent in the upmarket area.
``Dad is just being used as a scapegoat and they are going to enormous lengths to break him financially and in spirit,'' she told The Australian. ``The kids and I will get by, but it is heartbreaking to see what they are doing to Dad.''
Last week, officers from the state DPP visited Nuttall in Brisbane's Wacol prison to present him with a legal deed of agreement confirming that he would pay restitution under proceeds of crime law, and agreeing to sell the prime Woodgate property. The agreement stipulates Nuttall has three months to sell the property and satisfy the financial demands of the DPP or the public trustee will sell it. The home is understood to be valued at more than $900,000.
Last month Nuttall was informed by official letter that he would be required to appear before the state parliament to explain why he should not be fined by it, in addition to settling with the state over the Talbot payments.
If the MPs accept the recommendation by the parliament's integrity, ethics and parliamentary privileges committee to fine him $72,000, Nuttall will be the first person since Fitzgerald-era judge Angelo Vasta to be summoned before the Bar of parliament and possibly the only serving prisoner to suffer this indignity.
At his trial last July, the crown case was that Nuttall received monthly payments of $8333 from Talbot from 2002 to 2005 and did not disclose them on the parliamentary register of pecuniary interests. The jury accepted that the non-disclosure meant the payments were ``secret commissions'', and Nuttall was convicted.
Charges alleging Talbot paid the secret commissions to Nuttall -- to which he pleaded not guilty -- were outstanding before he died.
When Nuttall was charged, Premier Anna Bligh asked the Speaker of the parliament to refer the matter to the ethics committee to establish whether a contempt of the parliament had occurred.
In a letter dated June 10, obtained by The Australian, the ethics committee advised Nuttall that he would be required to attend the Bar of the house. At this appearance, a charge of contempt of parliament would be specified, and he would be given the opportunity to speak in his own defence.
However, a vote of parliament is required to enforce the recommendation of the parliamentary committee. It is believed to be the first time a serving prisoner has been forced to address a parliament in Australia in a century. Potentially, he will appear before parliament handcuffed to a prison officer and in prison garb of a chocolate-coloured tracksuit and thongs.
Ethics committee chairman Kerry Shine, a former state attorney-general who served with Nuttall in the Beattie government cabinet, said yesterday the move to fine Nuttall in addition to the restitution was to ``send a very strong message on what we regarded as a grave offence''.
Mr Shine said the committee was aware that this could constitute double jeopardy, meaning that Nuttall was being unlawfully punished for a second time for the same offence.
Mr Nuttall's son, Andrew, 31, said his father had been ``degraded, humiliated and worn down to nothing and made to look like a criminal''.
``The DPP and CMC have taken away his freedom and now they want more,'' he said.
``They have persecuted him and us as a family . . . We are struggling to see where the justice lies in any of this.''
Another daughter, Lisa Adams, said Nuttall had been at a disadvantage in defending himself because his assets had been frozen and he could not access funds to pay for his legal representation.
``As for this latest outrage from the ethics committee, Dad was made to complete his response with a biro on jotter paper with no access to research material. This was not only unfair, but was also humiliating.''