News State QLD News Electoral commissioner caught in sex act, did drugs at work, report finds

Electoral commissioner caught in sex act, did drugs at work, report finds

queensland electoral commissioner walter van der merwe
An investigation has substantiated five allegations against former electoral commissioner Walter van der Merwe. Photo: ABC
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Queensland’s former electoral commissioner used drugs at work and was caught in a sexual act with an employee, an investigation has found.

Walter van der Merwe, 56, resigned in February two days after being suspended over then-unspecified “serious allegations”.

Details of seven allegations were revealed on Thursday, when Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath confirmed the Crime and Corruption Commission had substantiated five of the claims.

The investigation found he was “seen in a compromising position with a temporary employee” in conduct believed to be of a sexual nature.

Mr van der Merwe was also found to have been intoxicated in the workplace and was regularly absent without a reasonable excuse.

He also directed senior officials not to discipline staff he was friends with, and overruled decisions made by senior staff to favour those friends.

The CCC found he used steroids in the workplace.

The investigation did not substantiate two other allegations.

“It is clear there are a range of improvements required to be made to the governance and accountability arrangements that operate throughout the (Electoral Commission Queensland),” Ms D’Ath said.

“It is important to note that the issues contained in the CCC’s investigation are not related to the outcome of any election, they are however very serious.”

Among its recommendations the CCC advised the ECQ develop and implement a policy outlining the parameters of formal and informal contact between MPs and the electoral commissioner.

It follows Mr van der Merwe receiving text messages from a number of MPs requesting information on the electoral boundaries and vote counts, Ms D’Ath added.

“CCC officers did not raise an allegation in relation to this behaviour as these types of contacts were considered inherent to his role,” she said.

Ms D’Ath announced the appointment of Pat Vidgen as the new acting electoral commissioner while recruitment for a more permanent commissioner is underway.

Mr Vidgen has 28 years of experience in Queensland’s public sector and was most recently General Manager of Strategic Engagement with the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation.

Mr van der Merwe was fined $600 after being caught with steroids.

-With AAP