Former official wants Qld integrity probe

Marty Silk |

Former Queensland state archivist Mike Summerell says “everyone knows” the state government has an integrity problem and there must be an inquiry.

Mr Summerell has called for a probe three days after revealing he was forced out of his record-keeping role last year after it became “compromised” by years by potential interference.

He says there must be an inquiry into government integrity, particularly a culture where public servants are encouraged to put the government’s political interest over the public interest.

The former archivist also believes the state’s integrity watchdogs must be given complete operational and financial independence.

“They need to be able to give frank and fearless advice and not feel they many suffer the consequences if they give an opinion or advice that the government of the day will not like or is embarrassing to them,” Mr Summerell wrote in a LinkedIn post on Monday morning.

“Integrity officials need complete independence – operationally and financially…they cannot be “threatened” or impeded by those they are seeking to monitor. Democracy needs to have checks and balances when some are given significant power over others.”

“Has Queensland got a problem…of course it has….have the Inquiry being demanded…let’s have the conversation and air these issues and come out the other side with a truly more effective democracy….stop saying there is nothing to see here….everyone knows there is, stop putting the political interest above the public interest. Do the right thing.”

His post comes as the Liberal National Party calls for Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch to be sacked after she told parliament last March that Mr Summerell decided not to renew his five-year contract and would move to New Zealand. 

The state government has since revealed that Mr Summerell was offered a contract extension, but only for three months.

LNP leader David Crisafulli said Ms Enoch has been “loose with the truth” as the archivist actually wanted to continue on, but had only been offered “a little bit of time to clear out his desk”.

Katter’s Australian Party and Greens MPs backed an inquiry last week after the resignations of Integrity Commissioner Nikola Stepanov and Crime and Corruption (CCC) chairman Alan MacSporran.

Dr Stepanov, who finishes her role in June, and Mr Summerell have both complained of “interference” in their roles.

The premier rejected the request, saying Queensland already had an independent agency dedicated to probing corruption.

Ms Palaszczuk said all public servants, officials and politicians had a legal obligation to report graft allegations to the CCC.

“We have a very robust system here in Queensland,” she told reporters on Friday.

“We have the CCC, which is essentially a standing royal commission.”

The premier also confirmed the CCC was probing a complaint made by the integrity commissioner against the Public Service Commission.

Dr Stepanov said earlier this week that the PSC had confiscated a laptop from her office and later deleted its contents “without my knowledge or consent” last year.