Qld crossbenchers back integrity probe

Marty Silk |

Queensland crossbenchers have joined calls for an inquiry into how and why the contents of a laptop seized from the integrity commissioner’s office were deleted.

Integrity Commissioner Nikola Stepanov says the Public Service Commission seized a laptop from her office and wiped its contents without her “knowledge or consent” last year.

Dr Stepanov, who tendered her resignation last week, also warned on Thursday the PSC put her office in a position of “inherent vulnerability” while calling for a formal inquiry into the body and its “considerable powers”.

Katter’s Australian Party MP Robbie Katter says a probe is needed to ensure the government is still operating honestly, transparently and there are no “abuses of power”.

“These days there’s so many offices and activities designed to ‘preserve the integrity’ of the state government, but they seem to miss the mark when it really matters,” Mr Katter told AAP.

“There is still so much dodgy business that goes on at every level.”

Dr Stepanov said in her annual report last year that her staff had been cut from four to one over her term.

Greens MP Michael Berkman backed her call for a probe as well, saying the government was too close to big business.

“Labor should immediately restore funding to the integrity commissioner’s office, and I look forward to a full investigation of the allegations against the Public Service Commission,” he told AAP.

Dr Stepanov has said “it is not appropriate” for the PSC to control the integrity commissioner’s budget, staff and resources.

“The current governance arrangements operate in such a way as to place the Integrity Commissioner in a position of inherent vulnerability, due to dependence on the PSC exercising its considerable powers in a judicious manner,” Dr Stepanov said in a statement on Wednesday.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday downplayed the commissioner’s resignation, saying that “people change jobs all the time”.

The premier has not fronted the Brisbane media for three days or responded to Dr Stepanov’s call for a probe.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath refused to comment on a possible inquiry, but said the Labor government were “proud of the transparency we have had”.

“I’m not going speak for the premier, I’m sure you can ask her those questions,” Ms D’Ath said on Thursday.

Liberal National Party leader David Crisafulli has called for a full inquiry into the raid, saying it wasn’t just a “minor breach of transparency”.

“That’s the sort of stuff that you see in the Kremlin in Russia,” he said.

Dr Stepanov’s resignation announcement came shortly before Crime and Corruption Commission chair Alan MacSporran quit on Tuesday, but she said it was a coincidence.

“My resignation has been considered and planned for some time and could not be regarded as unexpected,” Dr Stepanov said.

However, she said details of her confidential resignation notice had been “provided to the media” before the statutory processes had been completed.