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Premier’s lawyers in bid to block Barbagallo bullying claim

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Crown Law does not want the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission to act on explosive allegations from a former staffer to the Premier.

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The former senior policy adviser in the Premier’s office alleges he was sidelined after clashes with David Barbagallo and others, including over Barbagallo’s investment in a company that received State Government funding.

The man, who once joined a government trade mission and also campaigned for Labor, cannot be named as one of his contentions is that he is entitled to, but been denied, protections as a whistleblower.

In documents filed in the QIRC, the man claimed to have been on the outer after clashing with Barbagallo, who was Palaszczuk’s powerful chief-of-staff until he left amid an integrity investigation.

The man, who is believed to be representing himself, recently sought to prevent Crown Law from acting against him but was unsuccessful.

Now, Crown Law has filed documents seeking to have the case dismissed, and citing as a precedent the QIRC’s recent decision in relation to Logan City Council.

The QIRC ruled against sacked Logan City Council CEO Sharon Kelsey in her unfair dismissal case, two weeks after charges against eight councillors over their role in the matter were dropped. Former mayor Luke Smith still faces separate charges arising from the Crime and Corruption Commission investigation.

In response to the claim from the former adviser, Crown Law has asked the QIRC to rule it is made without jurisdiction, cannot succeed on any view of the facts or the law, and any further consideration is “not necessary or desirable in the public interest”.

It has cited the QIRC’s decision in the Kelsey case in an attempt to clarify how legislation affording protections to whistleblowers should interact with industrial laws. It has asked the QIRC to rule that any breaches of whistleblower protections should have been considered separately, and do not provide the foundation for the man’s claim industrial laws have been breached.

“The fact that legislation of this kind may contain particular remedies that will be available, under limited circumstances, for disclosers who happen to be employees, does not change the character of the provisions under which the initial disclosure was made,” Crown Law argued.

The CCC has been widely criticised over its handling of the Logan council investigation, and decision to lay charges over what the QIRC found was an internal human resources matter. There have been calls for an independent inquiry and the former councillors – who were dismissed by the government because they could no longer do their jobs – are considering legal action.

A parliamentary oversight committee will consider the issue again on Friday as part of its routine five-year review of the CCC. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has backed the CCC and said the Logan council matter can be considered by the committee.

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