Queensland reforms lobbyist watchdog


Queensland will have an independent political lobbying watchdog, and those who lobby without registering will be fined around $29,000 under the proposed law.

This reform comes in recent years following a number of incidents, investigations and reports related to government accountability, transparency and culture.

Prime Minister Anastasia Parašchuk introduced a bill to create a new integrity commission independent of the government to oversee lobbying activities in the state.

“Queenslanders expect their government to provide public services that demand transparent and accountable decision-making,” she told parliament on Friday.

“My government is committed to strengthening our integrity and oversight framework, ensuring it is modern and maintaining and improving our culture of accountability.”

No one can dictate to the Integrity Commissioner how to perform its functions or how to give priority to ethical or integrity issues under the law.

Staff in the new office will remain civil servants, but new laws will prevent them from taking direction from anyone outside the office.

Palaszczuk said this includes instructions on how to perform functions and how to prioritize ethics and integrity issues.

Unregistered lobbying is a crime and those found guilty are fined 200 penalty units (approximately $28,750).

The Queensland State Comptroller General will become an officer of Parliament and will be able to manage the resources of his own office.

They can also conduct performance audits of government-owned companies.

Palaszczuk said the ombudsman’s office would be strategically reviewed under the proposed law every five years, rather than the current seven.

The reform comes four months after Public Administrator and Academic Professor Peter Coldrake’s Review of Government Accountability and Culture.

His report highlighted tolerance for bullying among civil servants and reluctance to deviate from perceived official government lines.

Earlier on Friday, the Prime Minister announced the appointment of former NSW Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Ombudsman for Victoria, Linda Waugh, as the state’s new Integrity Commissioner.

Her predecessor, Dr. Nikola Stepanov, controversially resigned earlier this year after a laptop was taken from her office without her permission by the Public Service Commission.

A Criminal Corruption Commission investigation found no fraudulent activity associated with the device.

But Watchdog questioned the “continued suitability” of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to provide IT services to the Integrity Commissioner.

The CCC also noted that public service bosses control the lobbyist watchdog’s staff and budget.



Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.