Integrity crisis: Private emails reveal union leader told minister how to vote

A Queensland union leader told Transport Minister Mark Bailey how to vote in a cabinet meeting with the former state archivist saying the then energy minister had “difficulty managing” the relationship.

Mar 17, 2022, updated Mar 17, 2022
Transport Minister Mark Bailey (photo: AAP)

Transport Minister Mark Bailey (photo: AAP)

Former archivist Mike Summerell’s confidential 2017 report on the use of private emails by Mr Bailey, the current transport minister, for official business was publicly released on Wednesday night.

Mr Summerell found almost 1200 emails that Bailey tried to delete were public records, including controversial correspondence with the Electrical Trades Union.

In one email sent in 2015, then ETU secretary Peter Simpson tells the energy minister how to vote on workers’ compensation changes in a cabinet meeting.

Mr Simpson says Bailey will be given three options, but option A is the only “acceptable” choice.

“An important one mate, we obviously hope you go for A,” Mr Simpson wrote in the email.

The minister replied: “Will call you about this one tmrw. Was a surprise. M.”

Summerell said the relationship “seems to be one that Minister Bailey has difficulty managing”, and was of “particular interest and relevance” to the Crime and Corruption Commission.

“These records and the relationship in general are potentially matters that should be considered by the CCC or the Integrity Commissioner in terms of potential breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct,” Summerell said.

The former archivist also concluded Mr Bailey’s alleged deletion of 660 private emails without appropriate authorisation may have breached the Public Records Act multiple times.

Summerell said deleting public records was an attack on the accountability of government and its place in a “free and democratic society”.

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“These records document potentially decisions he has made as a Minister of State, the factors influencing his decisions and how those decisions were implemented,” he wrote.

“Public records are a cornerstone of accountable government and allow scrutiny from the public of the decisions of those who are elected to act on their behalf.”

Summerell said breaching laws on making and keeping, and the custody and preservation, of public records could be in breach of the criminal code.

He said the Crime and Corruption Commission should consider whether it was in the public interest to prosecute Bailey.

“There are clearly considerations around the actions of Minister Bailey in principle and in particular the message sent to others if Minister Bailey’s actions go unpunished,” the archivist’s report said.

“However there is also a question of equity in terms of whether the punishment of Minister Bailey, personally, greatly exceeds his ‘crime’.”

“The State Archivist’s view is that Minister Bailey’s practices have potential to be widespread and action against Minister Bailey may well be deemed as scapegoating.”

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