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Furore over claims of interference in work of integrity chief

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has confirmed issues relating to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner have been referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission.

Sep 15, 2021, updated Sep 15, 2021
Former Integrity Commissioner Nikola Stepanov is heading to Toowoomba. Picture: AAP

Former Integrity Commissioner Nikola Stepanov is heading to Toowoomba. Picture: AAP

In question time today, Opposition leader David Crisafulli questioned whether the Public Service Commission had threatened the independence of the Integrity Commissioner, Nikola Stepanov.

Palaszczuk responded by noting the Office of the Integrity Commissioner was the subject of a routine independent review, due to be completed by the end of the month, that would report on its powers, responsibilities and relationship with other public sector agencies.

Crisafulli then asked why the Public Service Commission had seized laptops and mobile phones from the Office of the Integrity Commissioner. Palaszczuk initially said that was a matter for the Public Service Commission, but later added that her department had advised her how to respond on the issue.

“Certain matters have been referred to the CCC and it would be inappropriate for me to comment,” Palaszczuk told parliament.

The nature of the allegations being examined by the CCC remain unclear. It has yet to publicly confirm an investigation.

Opposition integrity spokeswoman Fiona Simpson sought and received an assurance from Palaszczuk that no sensitive material would be passed on to her government, but only after being ordered to withdraw an inference that the Premier’s 30-strong team of media advisers might obtain information about whistleblowers.

The Opposition had previously tried to raise similar issues with Stepanov directly while she was giving evidence to a Budget estimates committee hearing. The Integrity Commissioner at the time said she was unaware of any investigation into her office.

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Palaszczuk said Stepanov was able to raise any issues with the independent review.

“She takes that position very seriously, and she carries out her job to the best of her abilities,” the Premier said.

“I have a firm belief that she can carry out her job as required to under the Act.”

Palaszczuk vowed to release the report once it had been considered by the government.

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