AJ Brown: can Palaszczuk really put integrity before politics?

Annastacia Palaszczuk vows to “restore integrity and accountability” to Queensland. That’s a tall order, says one corruption fighter, given the “winner takes all” attitude to the state’s politics.

Will the new Queensland Labor government’s swag of integrity and accountability commitments translate into a coherent strategy for repairing trust in government? And do new Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Liberal-National Party’s Lawrence Springborg have what it takes as leaders to put their state’s interests ahead of party politics?

Just when the rest of Australia thought Queensland was ready to slip back to infamous pre-Fitzgerald standards of public integrity, the dramatic state election result has shown the state continues to come of age. During the election campaign, Labor promised to restore integrity and accountability in government, including:

  • Committing to the Fitzgerald Principles for good governance;
  • Reforming political donations rules, including restoring a lower $1000 disclosure threshold;
  • Holding an inquiry by the Crime and Corruption Commission into the “links, if any, between donations to political parties and the awarding of tenders, contracts and approvals”; and
  • Upgrading and advertising the chairmanship of the CCC, held on an “acting basis” by former bureaucrat Dr Ken Levy in what Labor brands an “abuse” of the position.

Since then, the Labor leader has made four pages of promises to earn the crucial support of independent MP Peter Wellington, including new commitments such as developing real-time, online electoral donation disclosure — a first for Australia.

On February 9, Labor’s law and justice spokesperson, Yvette D’Ath, spoke at the Accountability and the Law conference in Brisbane. She pledged again to restore the corruption prevention function of the QCCC and to revisit rules requiring statutory declarations for many corruption allegations, both part of controversial corruption reforms pushed through in 2014 by the LNP.

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