Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is resisting calls for an inquiry into government integrity after a former top public servant alleged that a minister pressured him into “misleading parliament” for two years.
Former state archivist Mike Summerell says Housing Minister Mick de Brenni told him in 2018 that he no longer had independence from the department.
The archivist said he was then forced to change annual reports to remove parts that were “embarrassing or damaging to the government”, and if he didn’t, his reports would be changed before being tabled in parliament.
He says he felt pressured to leave his role in May after the government offered him a three-month extension on his five-year contract.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the state archivist isn’t an independent statutory role, but she’s asked her own department’s Director-General Rachel Hunter to investigate Mr Summerell’s claims.
However, she says he should have put his complaints to the Crime and Corruption Commission at the time.
“Let’s let the director-general have a look at these issues,” Ms Palaszczuk told reporters on Tuesday.
“But as I said, with serious allegations the public service know their code of conduct, and they know where to send serious allegations, and that is to the CCC.”
The premier said she hadn’t spoken to Mr de Brenni about the allegations because “he was probably doing important government businesses”.
Ms Palaszczuk also refused to say whether she’d asked current Housing Minister Leeanne Enoch about her statement to parliament, saying Mr Summerell has opted not to renew his five-year contract.
The former archivist said after his 2018 meeting with Mr de Brenni, he was told by superiors to remove references to his probe into an email scandal involving Transport Minister Mark Bailey from his annual report.
When he later refused to change annual reports “to make the government look good”, they were tabled by Mr de Brenni with controversial sections removed.
“For 2 years I was directed to create misleading annual reports to parliament by DHPW senior officials with as far as I am concerned only one objective – don’t say anything that could be embarrassing or damaging to the government,” Mr Summerrell said in a statement to News Corp on Tuesday.
The former archivist said “misleading parliament” was a huge integrity issue and that “I don’t believe at all that my experiences were unique”.
“People need to know how little respect this government has for the integrity of the public record, transparency and accountability,” Mr Summerrell said.
Liberal National Party leader David Crisafulli called for the premier to immediately sack Mr de Brenni and Ms Enoch.
He said the issues can only be resolved by Commission of Inquiry into government integrity and Mr Bailey should also stand aside while the probe occurs.
“The premier has no other choice but to launch a full royal commission into the integrity inferno burning her government to a crisp,” Mr Crisafulli told reporters.
Katter’s Australian Party and Greens MPs back an integrity inquiry after the resignations of Queensland Integrity Commissioner Nikola Stepanov and Crime and Corruption (CCC) chairman Alan MacSporran.
Like Mr Summerell, Dr Stepanov has also complained of “interference” in her role, with the CCC probing an allegation that the Public Service Commission confiscated a laptop from her office and later deleted its contents without her knowledge or consent last year.