Qld govt boss warned over lobbying probe

Marty Silk |

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk won’t say exactly when a top public servant was warned about refusing to cooperate with a lobbying probe.

Public Service Commission chief executive Rob Setter was asked to audit his staff’s contacts with lobbyists in the previous 12 months by Integrity Commissioner Nikola Stepanov early last year.

Mr Setter wrote back on February 18 to Dr Stepanov saying she didn’t have legal power to ask for an audit and he instead provided her with a basic lobbying log.

The commissioner also asked 20 other government department heads to do audits and all complied, except for the PSC boss, The Australian reported.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says Mr Setter should have ordered an audit, saying her director-general Rachel Hunter had spoken to him about the matter

However, she refused to say exactly when the PSC boss had been warned about complying with lobbying probes.

Mr Setter said he regrets not providing a more detailed register to Dr Stepanov, but said it would not have mattered as the PSC does not work with lobbyists.

“I regret that I did not follow up by providing the register,” he told AAP in a statement.

“For the record, the Public Service Commission register for that period records a NIL response.

“Public Service Commission staff are asked monthly to record any contact with lobbyists, and the organisation has no history of working with lobbyists.”

At that time of the request, the PSC had control over the budget and the staff of the Integrity Commissioner’s office. 

The Crime and Crime Corruption Commission is probing her allegation that a laptop was taken from Dr Stepanov’s office and wiped without her knowledge or permission last year.

Mr Setter has denied being involved in a “raid” or taking anything from Dr Stepanov’s office, but says “a lap top was provided to the CCC at their request”.

The premier also says she tried to have old bullying and credit card misconduct claims against Dr Stepanov probed after the commissioner had complained about the laptop.

Ms Palaszczuk she was legally obligated to refer Dr Stepanov to the Economics and Governance Committee.

The committee dismissed the claims, which were two-years old and had previously been dismissed by the CCC.

Liberal National Party leader David Crisafulli called the events “an absolute hit job” on the integrity commissioner.

He called for the premier and Mr Setter to reveal what was on the laptop and why it was taken, alleging it related Dr Stepanov’s lobbying probe.

“She was asking some pretty pertinent questions, a little bit uncomfortable, it was about labour lobbyists, and all of a sudden a lot of things happened to Dr Stepanov,” Mr Crisafulli said. 

“And I want to know what the premier knew and when.”