A QUEENSLAND Government Minister was forced to intervene to quell a heated confrontation between a senior member of the Premier’s press team and a Ministerial media adviser at a recent race meeting.
The Courier-Mail has been told Education Minister Grace Grace — in the presence of the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk — stepped into the public clash to escort the Premier’s media adviser, Geoff Breusch, from an enclosure on Stradbroke Day at Eagle Farm, one of the most glamorous events on the racing calenderer.
Senior television reporters confirmed Mr Breusch became involved in a heated dispute with Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe’s senior media adviser Martin Philip, not far from the Premier.
The flare-up came after a dramatic fall in Race 7 in which one of the starters, Lord Arthur, was seriously injured. The horse had to be put down.
The Courier-Mail has been told Mr Philip, a personal friend of the Premier’s resigned in the wake of the exchange with Breusch, a former Channel 7 television reporter who joined the premier’s burgeoning press team in 2016.
Mr Philip has lodged an official complaint about the incident, and the behaviour of Mr Breusch, with the matter being investigated by the government’s ministerial services branch. He declined to comment. Mr Breusch is on leave. He did not return calls.
It is understood Mr Philip’s resignation was no accepted by the Mr Hinchliffe who believed the incident was overdramatised.
The Courier-Mail understands Mr Philip was not on duty at the time and was attending the meeting as a guest of the club. He was seen socialising with other racegoers, including the Premier, an old friend.
The exchange took place in a very public place in front of some very prominent people, including members of the media.
The episode pointed to great distrust within the Premier’s own ranks, said LNP Shadow Industrial Relations Minister Jarrod Bleijie.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk runs a bitterly divided and dysfunctional government, the Premier rarely does any media conferences and her spin doctors are at each other’s throats,” he said.
“If you can’t govern yourselves, you can’t govern the state.”
The incident follows damming allegations by former senior government media adviser, Neil Doorley, who alleges in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission that he was wrongly dismissed.
Mr Doorley, who worked for four state ministers between September 2015 and November 2018, raised claims of a minister being called “lazy” and her office a “basket case.”