Qld premier coy on integrity concerns

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk refused to comment on the Integrity Commission issue in question time.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk refused to comment on the Integrity Commission issue in question time.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she can't comment on reported concerns about alleged interference with the state's Integrity Commission.

Integrity Commissioner Nikola Stepanov has reportedly raised concerns that the Public Service Commisson is interfering with her office.

The PSC has cut Integrity Commission staff, confiscated their mobile phones and laptops, deleted records from those devices and altered security permissions and acces to the commission's offices, according to a News Corp report.

The premier refused to comment on the matter in question time on Wednesday, saying some of the reports "are purely speculation".

Ms Palaszczuk says other aspects of the report were being probed by the Crime and Corruption Commssion (CCC).

"Some of these matters have been referred to the CCC, and I am not at liberty to comment on those," she told parliament.

The premier said there was no reason to believe the functions and obligations of the integrity commissioner were being hampered.

"The integrity commissioner is a very important officer, that has very important duties to do. She takes that position very seriously, and she carries out her job to the best of her abilities," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"As I said ... there are some other matters that have been referred to the CCC which I cannot comment on, nor should I.

"And I have a firm belief that she can carry out her job as required to under the act."

Opposition intergrity spokeswoman Fiona Simpson asked if the premier could guarantee that any private records of LNP and crossbench MPs held by the commission would not be passed on to Ms Palaszczuk's own staff.

"The answer is yes," she replied.

The reports of interference come amid a strategic review of the Integrity Commission being undertaken by Kevin Yearbury, which is due to the published in coming weeks.

Two months ago, Dr Stepanov said she was "very concerned" about illegal lobbying after a surge in recorded contacts between the state Labor government and lobbyists.

Dr Stepanov told a parliamentary estimates committee in July that complaints about lobbying and requests for advice about lobbying from her office are rising.

She said 38 requests for advice and 988 contacts were recorded between lobbyists and government ministers, MPs, public servants, councillors or local government staff in 2020/21.

That compares with an average of 239 contacts per year between January 2913 and June 2020.

The integrity commissioner said there were 46 discrepancies in the records held by chief executives of state government departments and the lobbyists.

There were another 57 discrepancies between the records held by chief executives of local governments and the lobbyists register.

Dr Stepanov said almost all discrepancies related to lobbyists failing to record contacts with people on the government register.

Australian Associated Press