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Nothing to see here: Premier rejects calls for royal commission after exit of integrity chiefs

Politics

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says there is no need for a royal commission into her Government’s integrity and suggests the Opposition, which has led calls for such a probe, needs a “reality check”.

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Calls for a fulsome legal inquiry into the Government’s integrity come after the recent resignations of the State’s Integrity Commissioner and Crime and Corruption Commission chair.

And the Government’s former State Archivist also claims he was forced out of office.

Palaszczuk however was on the offensive during a press conference on Friday.

“We have a very robust system here in Queensland. We have the CCC which is essentially a standing royal commission,” Palaszczuk said.

And she said Queensland law placed an obligation on public servants, including agency chiefs, to report any suspicion of corruption.

Palaszczuk said the laws as they stand were robust and she expected a high standard of her ministers and assistant ministers.

And she suggested that Opposition Leader David Crisafulli, who has called for a royal commission following the events of the past week in relation to the Government’s integrity body chiefs, needs “a serious reality check”.

Earlier, Mr Crisafulli told reporters: “Anything short of a Royal Commission doesn’t cut it”.

“Only a royal commission will get to the bottom of the corruption that is running through the government,” he said.

Katter’s Australian Party leader Robbie Katter said there was an “immediate onus” on the premier to launch a thorough investigation into all the state’s integrity agencies.

“These days there’s so many offices and activities designed to ‘preserve the integrity’ of the State Government, but they seem to miss the mark when it really matters,” he said.

“There is still so much dodgy business that goes on at every level.”

Former State Archivist Mike Summerell has claimed he was forced out of office in March.

Mr Summerell left his role, hours after the LNP asked him to probe whether the premier had used any of her private emails, which he was holding, for official government business.

He said was forced out after his role became “compromised” by potential interference, including a lack of support and advice.

“My time as state archivist post-2017 was greatly hindered by what I considered potentially inappropriate interference in my statutory role,” Summerell told News Corp Australia on Friday.

At the time of his departure, Arts Minister Leanne Enoch told parliament the archivist decided not to renew his contract.

However, Mr Summerell denies Ms Enoch’s version of events.

“I did not actually resign. I was simply told my contract would not be extended,” he said.

Palaszczuk disagreed, saying it was not her understanding that his contract was terminated.

“That is not my understanding. My understanding is that he was offered an extension,” Palaszczuk said.

“In relation to the State Archivist, can I just say this. My understanding is that he outlined his concerns to the CCC in 2021 prior to his departure.”

The premier also confirmed the CCC was probing a complaint made by the integrity commissioner Nikola Stepanov against the Public Service Commission.

Dr Stepanov said earlier this week that the PSC had confiscated a laptop from her office and later deleted its contents “without my knowledge or consent” last year.

“As these matters are under consideration by the CCC, I’m advised it will not be appropriate for me to comment further,” Palaszczuk said.

“I respect the Integrity Commissioner of this State and (she) is still the Integrity Commissioner until July.”

The government on Friday announced CCC commissioner Bruce Barbour would become acting chair of the commission following the swift exit of longtime CCC boss Alan MacSporran, who resigned after months of controversy surrounding the commission’s performance.

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said Mr Barbour would fill the role for three months while the government looked for a permanent CCC chair.

 

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