Australia

Annastacia Palaszczuk pledges ‘revolutionary’ fast-tracked cabinet paper release following integrity review

The Queensland government will release cabinet papers within 30 days instead of 30 years, in what Annastacia Palaszczuk says is a “revolutionary” response to an integrity review.
The premier faced a barrage of questions on Thursday, two days after the review found major issues within the public service.
Professor Peter Coaldrake’s landmark report pointed to a tolerance of bullying and a reluctance to deviate from the perceived official government line.
Ms Palaszczuk stopped short of issuing a direct apology to the public servants who were treated poorly, but said everyone deserves respect.

“If people are not doing their job and they’ve got time to belittle and have a go at other public servants, then it’s time for them to move on,” said the premier, who underwent dental surgery on Wednesday so didn’t front media.

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Ms Palaszczuk said she was taking “personal responsibility” to make certain the report’s 14 recommendations are implemented, among them the proactive release of cabinet submissions, agendas and decision papers.
“It means that cabinet papers, which are usually held for 30 years, will be released in 30 days. This is revolutionary,” she said.
People are more likely to trust their governments if decisions that affect their lives and spend taxpayers’ funds are “made in the open and subject to scrutiny”, Professor Coaldrake found.
Notably, the Queensland government has faced scrutiny over the details of its Wellcamp COVID-19 quarantine facility contracts, pointing to commercial-in-confidence considerations.
Opposition Leader David Crisafulli took aim at Ms Palaszczuk’s failure to release any further details on Wellcamp in light of the Coaldrake findings.
“A leader … would stand up and release the costings of Wellcamp because that is money that has been spent by taxpayers and there is not one ounce of commercial-in-confidence in that whatsoever,” he said on Thursday.
Neglecting to take a harder line against bullying was also a missed opportunity, Mr Crisfaulli said.
“(A leader) would accept responsibility for it, they’d apologise and they would hold the people who they employ directly accountable,” he said.

The Coaldrake report also calls for the access and influence of lobbyists to be reigned in, including an explicit ban on ‘dual-hatting’ during election campaigns.

“To every single member of the business community out there, you do not need to employ a lobbyist to have a meeting with my government,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
But on dual-hatting, the practice of former political campaigners taking on lobbying roles after elections, the premier said every state and federal campaign run by the major parties employed a lobbyist.
“That has been the practice for many years, in fact, many decades,” she said.
The Liberal-National opposition backed the report’s recommendations, with Mr Crisafulli saying a poor public service culture was having a direct impact on the government’s ability to deliver.

Katter’s Australian Party also welcomed the report but said it would do little to address concerns, while the Greens said the recommendations are “band-aid solutions” to a systemic level of government interference.

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