Queensland Premier brushes off criticisms after state’s integrity chief quits

Blake AntrobusNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has brushed aside criticisms of integrity issues within her government following the shock resignation of the state’s integrity commissioner.

Nikola Stepanov, who advises state MPs and bureaucrats on potential conflicts of interest, resigned as Queensland’s Integrity Commissioner last week – midway through her second three-year term.

Her office maintains a register of lobbyists across the state and had been examining allegations of potential unlawful lobbying by the state Labor government when she stood down.

Estimates Committee Hearing
Camera IconQueensland Integrity Commissioner Dr Nikola Stepanov resigned from her role last week amid an ongoing probe into allegations of unlawful political lobbying in the state. NCA NewsWire / Jono Searle Credit: News Corp Australia

However, further allegations had surfaced that the office had interfered in this probe.

The Australian reports Queensland’s corruption watchdog were investigating allegations a laptop was taken from Dr Stepanov’s office without her knowledge and wiped clean.

On Monday Ms Palaszczuk said Dr Stepanov had “taken another job” in Queensland.

“People move jobs from time to time, that’s completely up to the individual,” she told reporters.

“My understanding is she doesn’t leave until July.”

Camera IconDuring the daily Covid-19 update on Monday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk brushed aside tough questions on integrity issues within her state following Dr Stepanov’s resignation. NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled Credit: News Corp Australia

Ms Palaszczuk did not address allegations surrounding the forensic examination of the laptop, insisting it was “before the Crime and Corruption Commission” and she would not go into the details publicly.

“I don’t think it’s a problem at all, we’ll advertise and have a new Integrity Commissioner,” she said.

Dr Stepanov’s sudden move comes amid renewed criticism of the CCC and it’s chair Alan McSporran over the watchdog’s handling of fraud charges against eight Logan City councillors.

Last week, former Moreton Bay mayor Alan Sutherland had two charges of misconduct withdrawn.

Camera IconThe move comes as CCC chair Alan MacSporran faces an uncertain future over the watchdog’s handling of high-profile cases against Local Government councillors. Credit: News Corp Australia

Ms Palaszczuk said her cabinet would consider the findings of a report into the CCC and its chair before parliament resumed.

Opposition leader David Crisafulli said Dr Stepanov’s resignation was “deeply concerning” amid her investigations into alleged illegal lobbying.

“This is an independent officer investigating the murky links of Labor lobbyists, her office was then raided and now she’s been forced out the door,” Mr Crisafulli said.

“When a government has given up on integrity it has given up on governing for Queenslanders. It cannot be understated how serious this is.”

Originally published as Queensland Premier brushes off criticisms after state’s integrity chief quits

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