On Friday 8 July 2005, in a public hearing of a Queensland parliamentary estimates committee, 'Estimates Committee D - Health', Copeland questioned Health Minister Gordon Nuttall over his knowledge of the problems surrounding the proficiencies of Overseas Trained Doctors. At the time, the minister was accompanied by senior officers of Queensland Health, including the then Director General of Queensland Health (Dr Buckland) and the then Senior Executive Director, Health Services (Dr Scott).
Nuttall denied ever having been briefed on problems associated with Overseas Trained Doctors, but was directly contradicted by Dr Scott who advised the committee that Nuttall had been briefed. This led to accusations Nuttall had lied to the Committee, then an offence under Section 57 of the Queenslands Criminal Code.
In August 2005, Nuttall stepped aside from the Ministry while the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) investigated claims he had given a false answer to a Parliamentary estimates committee regarding his prior knowledge of problems with overseas-trained doctors. The Commission reported back in December 2005, recommending the Attorney-General prosecute Nuttall under section 57 of the Criminal Code. The prosecution was not proceeded with as Premier Beattie recalled Parliament to revoke the relevant section of the Criminal Code so Parliament could deal with such matters itself under contempt of parliament provisions.
Nuttall resigned from the Ministry on 7 December 2005. As a result of the Nuttall case, Lying to Parliament remains a powerful political issue in Queensland with the LNP promising during the 2012 election campaign to re-introduce laws to make it illegal to lie to Parliament.
Read more about this topic: Stuart Copeland
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