Photo: Glenn Hunt/AAP
Queensland Labor MP Jim Madden has announced he will not contest the next state election even though parliament has revealed he used taxpayer funds to buy artwork for his then-girlfriend.
Last week The Australian reported allegations that he spent taxpayer funds buying a butterfly artwork for his ex-partner Sarah Grist at a school charity auction in September 2018, before later asking for it back.
Related: Queensland MP asked to be investigated over alleged $125 purchase of artwork for girlfriend
The clerk of parliament, Neil Laurie, found that allegations against the Ipswich West MP were unfounded.
Although his investigation found that Madden bought the artwork and gave it to a “third party” before it was later recovered, Laurie said the $185 paid for three items was never cleared through the member’s entitlement system. As a result, they were not paid for with public funds but purchased personally by Madden, he said.
Madden said that although he was cleared of the allegations in 2018, he made the decision to retire due to health concerns.
“Some time ago I made the decision that I will not be re-nominating for pre-selection as the Australian Labor Party candidate for Ipswich West in the 2024 election,” he told parliament on Tuesday. “And so there will be no re-contests in the next election.
“I made the decision to retire after careful consideration of my ongoing mental and physical health … In the past two years, I have been admitted to hospital three times for surgery.”
Madden confirmed that he spent his own money on the artwork to support a special school’s fundraising efforts.
“Regarding the recent allegations made in the media, I have always tried to uphold the standards expected of my community and the Australian Labor party. I participated fully in processes about issues that were raised.”
Madden also came under fire in the Australian report from former teammates David Stone and Alison Young, who alleged they bullied him.
Young made a formal complaint to Labor but the party chose not to expel Madden after an investigation in February found he had breached 22 of its rules.
Queensland Labor state secretary Kate Flanders said none of the findings had raised the threshold for Madden to be kicked out of the party and denied the bullying allegations.
“They were results where maybe their relationship in the workplace wasn’t what it should have been,” Flanders told reporters last week.
“We are proactively training with Jim on how to create and ensure a safe and productive work environment.”
Flanders confirmed last week that, due to Labor party quotas, two current male MPs would not be able to contest again in the next election.
The ALP’s affirmative action policy calls for women to be pre-selected in 45% of Labour’s seats.
Madden’s retirement could mean that only one Labor MP will now have to step aside ahead of the next election.