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Lock, stock and smoking barrels – Premier says damning integrity report ‘exactly what I want’

The Queensland government will adopt the recommendations of a report into its own accountability and workplace culture “lock, stock and barrel”, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk declaring “they are exactly what I want”.

Jun 29, 2022, updated Jun 29, 2022
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has launched her new youth crime bill. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has launched her new youth crime bill. (AAP Image/Darren England)

The 131-page final report handed down by Professor Peter Coaldrake late on Tuesday made 14 recommendations, including reigning in the access and influence of lobbyists.

Palaszczuk said she not only welcomed the report, but embraced it.

“I would not have asked Professor Coaldrake to conduct this review if I did not want reform,” she said in a statement.

“We will accept all of his recommendations and we will implement them lock, stock and barrel.

“They are bold, they are comprehensive and they are visionary and they are exactly what I want.”

The review called for a strengthened framework surrounding ministers, their staff and senior public service officers to be continually reviewed and reinforced.

The report urged Queensland’s Auditor-General to be granted more independence and given broader scope to monitor the departmental use of consultants and contractors.

It also called for a ‘single clearing house’ to track and streamline the progress and outcomes of individual complaints, and pushed greater protections for whistleblowers and the mandatory reporting of data breaches.

The recommendations include that the Ombudsman be able to investigate complaints against private organisations carrying out functions on behalf of the government, and for public service bosses to be given five-year contracts, unaligned to the electoral cycle.

Palaszczuk said the report would go to Cabinet on Monday.

“Once they’re implemented, Queensland will have the most transparent and accountable government in Australia,” she said.

The Liberal National opposition also backed the report’s recommendations as leader David Crisafulli sought to link integrity issues directly with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

“The premier must front the media today and show why she can lead the government out of the mess she has created,” he said.

Crisafulli said a poor culture was having a direct impact on government’s ability to deliver services to the state.

“That’s why our health system is in disarray, that’s why law and order in the state is what it is, that’s why people are living in cars, because this government no longer governs for Queenslanders, it governs for its mates and it governs for its survival,” he said.

Queensland’s Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman admitted she was aware of bullying complaints in the public service “from time to time”, but said the extent of the findings was a surprise.

“Like any review … you learn things, and we have said it’s unacceptable,” she told 4BC radio Brisbane on Wednesday.

The final report handed down by Professor Peter Coaldrake pointed to a culture too tolerant of bullying and a public service reluctant to deviate from the perceived official government line.

“Queenslanders can have faith now that the premier has acted so swiftly and so strongly to accept these recommendations,” Fentiman said.

The report also called for the reigning in of access and influence of lobbyists, including an explicit ban on “dual hatting” of professional lobbyists during election campaigns.

The premier on Monday pre-empted several of the report’s key recommendations by announcing a tightening of regulations surrounding lobbyists and their level of access.

The review called for the framework surrounding ministers, their staff and senior public service officers to be continually reviewed and reinforced.

It proposed Queensland’s Auditor-General be granted more independence and given broader scope to monitor the departmental use of consultants and contractors.

Additionally, the Ombudsman should be able to investigate complaints against private organisations carrying out functions on behalf of the government.

Katter’s Australia Party welcomed the report’s release, but said it would do little to settle the concerns of residents.

“Based on this report, no one appears to be to blame for the cultural toxicity that has permeated our public service in recent years, and yet everyone is,” leader Robbie Katter said.

 

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