Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she’ll make Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne apologise to the disability sector after he launched an expletive-laden tirade directed at her office.
Mr Byrne reportedly called Ms Palaszczuk’s staff “f—tards” in response to their request he travel 60km to attend a media opportunity with the premier in far north Queensland earlier this month.
Mr Byrne has since apologised for the language used, saying his speech can be “more suited to the battlefield than the boardroom”.
“I can’t recall the precise words I used, but it may come as no surprise to those who know me that from time to time, colourful language does pass my lips,” he said in a statement.
Mr Byrne also denied he had intended to disparage developmentally disabled people by using the suffix “-tard”
“I categorically refute the allegation that I have at any time used language intended to insult or denigrate the disabled,” he said.
Ms Palaszczuk said the language used by Mr Byrne was unacceptable, and she had counselled him.
“I have made it very clear that I do not want to see that happen again and I don’t think he should be speaking like that to anybody,” she said
The premier said Mr Byrne had apologised to her personally, and was “quite sure” he would be happy to apologise to the disability sector as well.
It’s understood the outburst prompted the resignation of Mr Byrne’s chief-of-staff, his fourth since becoming a minister in 2015.
It’s not the first time Mr Byrne’s rambunctious style has raised eyebrows.
There were calls for him to stand down last year after it emerged he shot at rats at his Rockhampton home in the 1990s.
However, the premier stood by the then police minister, saying any offence would be outdated.
Mr Byrne was also pulled into line by the premier in 2015 after it was revealed he had enlisted dumped Labor MP Billy Gordon to appear in his place at official events.
The issue comes on the same day the state’s chief scientist was stood aside after being charged with fraud, and after Energy Minister Mark Bailey was last week sidelined over corruption allegations.
Ms Palaszczuk admitted it wasn’t an ideal time for the minority government.
“I would prefer these issues not to be occurring, I expect high standards from my ministers and I expect people to treat one another with respect.”
Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said the issues showed Labor had lost control of its internal processes.
“While this government lurches from crisis to crisis … they’re not governing for Queensland,” he said.