Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has said sorry to public servants who felt they were not listened to over integrity matters in the state government.
“There were some people who said they felt that they weren’t listened to, and I apologise if they feel that way,” Palaszczuk told reporters on Wednesday.
“We have to make sure we have confidence and Queenslanders should have confidence in the robust checks and balances we have”
A number of serving and former public servants have raised integrity issues in the government in past weeks, including claims by former state archivist Mike Summerell last week he was “directed to create misleading annual reports to parliament”.
Palaszczuk had initially directed her top public servant Rachel Hunter to look into the matter, but to avoid any perceptions of a conflict of interest now an external Queen’s Counsel will investigate the claims.
“That QC’s report will be done completely independently, at arm’s length from the government, and as soon as that report is completed it will be immediately released,” the premier said on Monday.
Integrity commissioner Nikola Stepanov, who announced she would resign early from her position last month, said in a submission to a parliamentary committee reviewing her office every five years that the Office of the Integrity Commissioner should become independent of the Public Service Commission.
Instead, Stepanov called for the office to be formally established as an independent unit within the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
“Good governance structures are important, particularly where independence is valued,” Stepanov said.
The acting chair of Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission, Bruce Barbour, said the CCC supported recommendations to make the Integrity Commissioner a unit of public administration.
“If the Integrity Commissioner was a public official of a unit of public … she would have a duty to notify the CCC if she reasonably suspected corrupt conduct,” Barbour said in a submission to the committee.
The CCC is itself the subject of an independent investigation being overseen by former Federal Court judge Tony Fitzgerald following a separate parliamentary committee finding the agency had mishandled an investigation into eight former Logan City councillors, who had charges dropped against them in 2021.