Queensland MP to retire at 2024 election despite being cleared of allegation he misspent taxpayer funds

<span>Photograph: Glenn Hunt/AAP</span>
Photograph: Glenn Hunt/AAP

The embattled Queensland Labor MP Jim Madden has announced he will not contest the next state election despite being cleared by parliament of allegations he used taxpayer funds to buy artwork for his then-girlfriend.

Last week the Australian reported allegations that he had spent taxpayer funds buying a butterfly artwork for his former partner Sarah Grist at a school charity auction in September 2018, before later asking for it back.

Related: Queensland parliament asked to investigate MP over alleged purchase of $125 artwork for girlfriend

The parliament clerk, Neil Laurie, found allegations against the Ipswich West MP were “not substantiated”.

While his investigation found Madden did buy the artwork and give it to a “third party” before it was subsequently retrieved, Laurie said the $185 paid for three items was never acquitted through the members’ entitlement system. As a result, they were not paid for out of public funds but were bought by Madden personally, he said.

Madden said although he had been cleared of the 2018 allegations he had made the decision to retire due to health concerns.

“Some time ago I made the decision I will not be renominating for preselection as the Australian Labor party candidate for Ipswich West in the election in 2024,” he told parliament on Tuesday. “And as such, will not be recontesting the next election.

“I made the decision to retire after careful consideration of my ongoing mental and physical health … In just the last two years, I have been admitted to hospital to undergo surgery on three occasions.”

Madden confirmed he had spent his own money on the artwork to support a special school’s fundraising efforts.

“In relation to the recent allegations made in the media, I have always tried to uphold the standards expected by my community and the Australian Labor party. I have fully participated in processes about issues raised.”

Madden had also came under fire in the Australian report from former staff members David Stone and Alison Young, who alleged they were bullied by him.

Young lodged a formal complaint with Labor but the party chose not to expel Madden after an investigation in February that found he had breached 22 of its rules.

Queensland Labor’s state secretary, Kate Flanders, said none of the findings met the threshold for Madden to be kicked out of the party and that he had denied the bullying allegations.

“They were findings where perhaps their workplace relationship was not what it should be,” Flanders told reporters last week.

“We are undertaking some proactive training with Jim about how to create and ensure there is a safe and productive work environment.”

Flanders confirmed last week that due to Labor party quotas, two current male Labor MPs would not be able to re-contest the next election.

The ALP affirmative action policy requires women to be preselected in 45% of seats held by Labor.

Madden’s retirement potentially means only one male Labor MP will now have to step aside ahead of the next election.