Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk fires back at integrity claims

The Queensland premier says she did "everything right" by referring the Integrity Commissioner for possible action over allegations of misconduct.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

Annastacia Palaszczuk says she did "everything right" as Queensland Premier by referring the state's Integrity Commissioner for possible investigation. Source: AAP

Annastacia Palaszczuk says she did "everything right" as Queensland premier by referring the state's Integrity Commissioner for possible investigation, denying a report she did so after the probity chief made explosive claims about senior public servants.

Ms Palaszczuk has also urged the state's Crime and Corruption Commission to release an update on their probe into whether the Public Service Commission took a laptop from Integrity Commissioner Nikola Stepanov's office and deleted its "sensitive" contents.

The premier on Sunday stressed that she "plays by the rules" after a NewsCorp report claimed she referred Dr Stepanov to a parliamentary committee over two-year-old "low level" misconduct allegations just weeks after the integrity chief had complained of PSC interference.

Ms Palaszczuk said she referred the Integrity Commissioner to the Economics and Governance Committee on advice from the Solicitor General "as soon as I became aware of matters" in April 2021.

"Let's get the facts on the table," she said.

"The Solicitor General advised me that that was the correct course of action...I didn't do it myself.

"I take my obligations incredibly seriously as premier. When I am given Solicitor General's advice, I act on that advice - if I didn't, it would be absolutely negligent."

Liberal National Party leader David Crisafulli accused the premier of "a deliberate hit job to take out an independent officer asking probing questions about Labor lobbyists".

Asked if she was aware of Dr Stepanov's allegations of PSC interference before she sought the Solicitor General's advice, the premier said: "To my knowledge, no, but I will double check.

"As soon as I heard about an alleged misconduct I took immediate action, that is my obligation as premier.

"I did everything right as premier. I referred this matter for the committee's consideration and what they do with that is for the committee."

Dr Stepanov, who will step down in July, has said the government cut her funding and staff, and even tried to have her removed - the latter claim denied by the premier.

Asked if she respected Dr Stepanov, Ms Palaszczuk said on Sunday: "Yes I do, absolutely.

"I have always found her advice to me personally very comprehensive, very timely.

"I have personally no issues with the Integrity Commissioner."

After a thinly veiled swipe at those who had leaked details to the media, the Premier urged the CCC to provide an update into Dr Stepanov's PSC interference claims.

"There are limits to what I can say. Unlike others I respect proper processes," she said.

"What I am saying is that it would be very helpful if the CCC would update the public on their investigation.

"I have asked my department to write to them to seek an update but ultimately it is a matter up for them."

Ms Palaszczuk again rejected calls for a sweeping integrity probe despite a series of misconduct allegations being made against the government.

The Queen's Counsel is also investigating misconduct allegations made by former state archivist Mike Summerell, who alleged interference in his role and his reports, potentially leading to parliament being misled.

There are also separate reviews looking at whether the CCC, the Integrity Commissioner and the Office of the Independent Assessor are fit for purpose.

3 min read
Published 13 February 2022 at 9:03pm
Source: AAP, SBS