• Indigenous leader Noel Pearson has emphatically denied racially abusing a Queensland minister. (AAP)Source: AAP
Indigenous leader Noel Pearson has denied racially abusing a Queensland minister, and says there's no culture of bullying in his schools program.
Source:
AAP
28 Nov 2016 - 2:13 PM  UPDATED 28 Nov 2016 - 3:08 PM

Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones is standing firm, despite Noel Pearson's denials, saying the indigenous leader racially abused her seven years ago.

Mr Pearson is accused of calling the then environment minister a "f***ing white c***" when she was part of a government delegation to Cairns in 2009 to discuss 'Wild Rivers' legislation.

Mr Pearson didn't deny using "colourful language" in dealings over his Good to Great schools program, but he's told the ABC: "I completely, completely reject the suggestion that I directed any of those words at minister Kate Jones in 2009".

Mr Pearson went on ABC radio on Monday to answer allegations he used highly offensive language in his dealings with Queensland public servants who had raised concerns about his Indigenous schools program.

"Arse coverer", "maggot" and "bucket of sh**" were reportedly some of the words used by Noel Pearson to abuse senior staff at Education Queensland."

The ABC has cited a June letter from the director-general of Education Queensland Dr Jim Watterston to Mr Pearson, in which he raised serious concerns about his conduct.

"Dear Noel ... when we met on 25 May 2016, I felt there were several times you behaved in an intimidating manner and made inappropriate comments (I clearly recall pejoratives such as 'arse coverer', 'maggot', and 'bucket of s***', to name a few)," Dr Watterston wrote.

"Where I draw the line, however, is when similarly intimidating and abusive behaviour is directed towards my staff."

Mr Pearson is the founder and co-chair of Good to Great Schools Australia, which runs the Cape York Academy schools of Aurukun, Coen and Hope Vale in partnership with the Queensland government.

Asked about the allegations of offensive and abusive behaviour, Mr Pearson said: "As with anything like that, there are bits and pieces that are accurate and so on, but there's a lot of verballing as well".

"I accept that I'm a very passionate and relentless advocate on behalf of reform. I am surely not the only one who engages in colourful language."

But he denied his schools program had a culture of bullying.

"... you come across the occasional employee who likes to conflate a hard work culture with a bullying culture, but none of those claims have ever been made out."

Aurukun's Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy was shut down and teachers were evacuated in late May after increasing unrest, including the car-jacking of its principal twice in a fortnight.

The unrest sparked a review of the school's performance, resulting in a decision to reassert Education Department control over the facility.

After the unrest, Mr Pearson said Queensland's "bastard government" had maligned the direct instruction technique used at the academy's Cape York schools.

He ultimately wrote to the government to advise Good to Great Schools Australia would cease operations in Aurukun from next year.

Ms Jones said the issue was a distraction from her ministerial role.

"I've been around politics for a long time, I'm used to robust language," she said.

"But that was many years ago. I've moved on. I'm sure Noel Pearson has moved on."

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