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Qld govt supports integrity recommendations

by Anthony L. Gonzalez

The Queensland Attorney-General admits she was aware of complaints of harassment in the public service after publishing a report outlining a culture needing major reform.

The state government has pledged to adopt all 14 recommendations from a comprehensive public service assessment just hours after the 131-page report was handed over late Tuesday.

But while she was aware that “complaints of bullying were made from time to time,” Attorney General Shannon Fentiman said the magnitude of the findings came as a surprise.

Qld govt supports integrity recommendations

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

Professor Peter Coaldrake’s final report pointed to a culture that is too tolerant of bullying and public service that is reluctant to deviate from the perceived official line of government.

“Queenslanders can be confident now that the Prime Minister has acted so swiftly and forcefully to accept these recommendations,” Ms. Fentiman said.

The report also called for the rule of lobbyist access and influence, including an explicit ban on “double hats” by professional lobbyists during election campaigns.

The Liberal National Opposition also supported the report’s recommendations, as leader David Crisafulli wanted to link integrity issues directly to Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk.

“The prime minister must stand before the media today and show why she can lead the government out of the mess it has caused,” he said.

Mr. Crisafulli said bad culture directly impacts the government’s ability to provide services to the state.

“That’s why our health system is messed up, that’s why law and order in the state are what it is, that’s why people live in cars because this government no longer rules for the people of Queensland, it rules for its friends, and it rules for its survival,” he said.

The prime minister said she welcomed the report and embraced it.

“I wouldn’t have asked Professor Coaldrake to conduct this assessment if I didn’t want reform,” she said Tuesday.

“(The recommendations) are bold, they are comprehensive, and they are visionary, and they are exactly what I want.”

Ms. Palaszczuk on Monday anticipated some of the report’s key recommendations by announcing a tightening of regulations on lobbyists and their level of access.

The review called for the continuous assessment and strengthening of the framework around ministers, their staff, and senior officials.

It proposed that the Queensland Auditor General be given more independence and broader scope to oversee the departmental use of consultants and contractors.

In addition, the ombudsman should be able to investigate complaints against private organizations acting on behalf of the government.

It added that public service bosses should be given five-year contracts, which are not in line with the election cycle.

Ms. Palaszczuk said the report would go to the cabinet on Monday.

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

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