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Palaszczuk denies involvement in ‘raid’ on integrity watchdog’s office

Deputy LNP leader David Janetzki asked who organised the confiscation of mobile phones and laptops, and removal of sensitive records.

“I am not aware of who did that”, Ms Palaszczuk responded, noting the corruption watchdog’s comments all allegations should be treated as unsubstantiated. “I will not be commenting any further.”

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Dr Stepanov referred to the Premier’s comments on Wednesday that “certain matters” had been referred to the corruption watchdog and said she was unable to say anything further. The Public Service Commission said it would be inappropriate to comment. The Crime and Corruption Commission was also approached.

The developments come after a year in which Dr Stepanov’s office experienced a “significant increase” in lobbying activity across the state and raised concerns about a lack of transparency.

Based on data from the lobbying register, there had been 988 contacts in the 2020-21 financial year — up from an annual average of 239 over the past seven — she said in a joint media release in July, following an earlier integrity summit on lobbying and the public sector.

In Dr Stepanov’s annual report for 2020-21, she said of the four permanent full-time equivalent positions available to support her functions, one was vacant and one was filled on a temporary basis. One temporary position had also been added.

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“The sustained workload has meant that the greatest challenge to the commission continues to be responding to demand without any negative impacts on advice quality, comprehensiveness, service, and timeliness,” the report said.

During a budget estimates hearing in July, Dr Stepanov said she was not aware of any investigation into her after Ms Palaszczuk revealed there had been a referral to a committee, when asked about any ongoing or former probes into the office.

Following revelations two former Queensland ALP state secretaries-turned-lobbyists worked behind the scenes on Ms Palaszczuk’s 2020 election campaign, Dr Stepanov told the ABC she would support a review of lobbying laws as part of the strategic review of her office.

The Public Service Commission oversees the Public Sector Ethics Act and is responsible to the Premier. Both it and Dr Stepanov’s office are part of the state’s multi-agency integrity regime and the informal committee that meets four times a year, which she chairs.

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