Men at work: State Government’s new ethics advisory panel delivers jobs for the boys

The State Government will start applying more scrutiny on the ethical credentials of government suppliers – but with a hand-picked panel at odds with Labor’s values on gender equality.

Jul 15, 2022, updated Jul 15, 2022
Energy Minister Mick de Brenni. (Photo: ABC)

Energy Minister Mick de Brenni. (Photo: ABC)

The ability of the new group to provide independent advice on such matters as fair pay and safe working conditions has been called into question given nine positions on the 12-member panel have gone to men.

The selection includes the chair, former Queensland Industrial relations commissioner John Thompson and his deputy, Jennifer McVeigh, a solicitor of 37 years with a string of board positions and an associate professor at QUT.

Under their leadership, the panel, which includes Angela Liebke and Elizabeth Milner – both with construction backgrounds – will provide “robust, independent and expert advice and recommendations” to the directors-general and CEOs of procuring agencies, according to Procurement Minister Mick de Brenni.

He said the panel would drive “genuine, secure ongoing jobs with fair pay and safe working conditions for Queenslanders”.

He said it would also support ethically, socially and environmentally responsible Queensland businesses.

“This as an historic moment and a first for Australia,” he said.

“The panel’s role in providing government agencies with advice regarding procurement, contracts, audits and investigations will drive real change in Queensland.”

But Shadow Minister for Women Ros Bates said she was appalled by Labor’s “double standards”.

“They couldn’t be more obvious,” she said.

“Queenslanders are frustrated with this arrogant and power hungry third term government because they can’t follow through on their promises.

“This is another example of the State Government failing to talk the talk and walk the walk.”

The announcement of the panel comes less than six months after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk launched a new five-year strategy setting out the government’s plan and commitment to support Queensland women and girls to succeed.

The strategy, jointly launched by Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Shannon Fentiman, had a particular focus on women’s economic security and safety, while citing success at exceeding 50 per cent female representation on government boards.

A Department of Energy and Public Works spokesperson said gender diversity was one of the requested considerations for nominees to the panel.

They said the female representation of the panel was currently 25 per cent, compared to the average construction trades female workforce of about 15 per cent.

“The Queensland Government always attempts to ensure gender parity, however this is sometimes difficult, especially in fields which are historically male dominated,” the spokesperson said.

“We always do, and will continue to work closely with employers and unions to devise and implement strategies to ensure increased nomination of women.”

With a 40-year industrial relations career, half spent as a QIRC commissioner, Thompson’s ‘Tripartite Procurement Advisory Panel’ will form part of the government’s ‘Buy Queensland’ approach to procurement.gender quality

“Mr Thompson led the review into the Queensland Industrial Relations Act 2016 and this report was released on 6 February 2022 by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk,” de Brenni said.

“I can’t think of anyone better to head this new panel, which is an essential part of Queensland’s procurement approach and the state’s economic recovery plan.”

The ‘Ethical Supplier Mandate’ and the ‘Ethical Supplier Threshold’, introduced in 2019 and widened in February this year, would be central to the panel’s approach.

“When we introduced these reforms, we promised to establish this panel to provide robust, independent and expert advice and recommendations on the application of penalties under the mandate,” de Brenni said.

“As well, it will also provide government agencies with broader advice regarding procurement, contact, audit and investigation processes and systems.”

Other board members are:

Jorgen Gullestrup: Former CEO of MATES in Construction.
John Shenfield: 45 years at a senior level in as a director for a listed company at a director level.
Jason Stein: Specialist industrial relations practitioner and experienced business manager with more than 41 years’ experience.
Thomas Campbell: Qualified industrial and commercial electrician with more than 14 years’ experience.
Graham Moloney: More than 33 years with the General Teachers Union.
John Crittall: Senior executive and board member with extensive experience in board and corporate governance, financial management, strategic risk management, compliance and project management.
Stephan Nance: 39 years working with CEOs, directors, managers, supervisors and employees to improve workplaces and working relationships.
Shane Kennelly: More than 20 years in senior executive positions.

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