A Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) report titled An investigation into allegations relating to the appointment of a school principal was tabled in State Parliament today.
The CCC commenced an investigation on 19 December 2019 into allegations that the then Deputy Premier interfered in a Department of Education (DoE) recruitment process that was selecting the principal for the new Inner City South State Secondary College (ICSSSC).
During the six-month investigation, the CCC interviewed a number of people, examined witnesses at coercive hearings, and obtained documentation and electronic records to determine if any person had committed corrupt conduct as defined in the Crime and Corruption Act 2001.
The report tabled in Parliament places on the public record the series of events involving DoE officers, the selection panel, candidates for the principal position and the then Deputy Premier during the recruitment process of the initial ICSSSC Band 11 Principal position, and the subsequent recruitment process for the upgraded ICSSSC Executive Principal position.
The report also details how student enrolment figures for the ICSSSC were manufactured in a way that is arguably dishonest, and how false information was published in a media statement and provided to the Premier and Minister for Education.
CCC Chairperson Alan MacSporran QC said this investigation uncovered several practices that should be a concern to all Queenslanders, and in particular all public sector employees.
“The CCC identified some very worrying and disappointing practices during this investigation,” Mr MacSporran said.
“The CCC found that department officers and some selection panel members had very poor or no records of key decisions, we recovered an email that was the subject of an instruction to delete a public record, a recruitment process was interfered with by people not on the selection panel, a candidate was misled by department officers and false information was published or used to make decisions,” Mr MacSporran said.
“The report outlines how some department officers thought it was a good idea or were aware of the idea to “test” a candidate during a meeting with the former Deputy Premier, even though the selection panel had made a decision. The former Deputy Premier did not instigate that meeting and was not a member of the selection panel, nor was a meeting part of the original recruitment process, so in the CCC’s view the meeting to “test” the candidate was entirely inappropriate.”
“All Queensland public servants and elected officials should read this report to see how a straight forward recruitment process went off the rails. This type of conduct should never occur again,” Mr MacSporran said.
“There are vital lessons from this investigation that must be learned.”
It is important for any person interested in these matters to read the entirety of the investigation report and the submissions from relevant parties to understand the basis of the CCC’s conclusions following our extensive investigation.
In summary, the outcomes of the investigation are:
There is no prima facie case that the former Deputy Premier has committed a criminal offence or that she was motivated by any dishonest or corrupt intent. Notwithstanding this, the nature of her involvement in DoE decision-making created a corruption risk.
The CCC concludes that, whilst the Deputy Premier did not intend to influence decision-making in relation to the Band 11 Principal position, the manner in which the DoE, and specifically a Deputy Director-General, approached the situation meant it had that result.
The decision to involve the Deputy Premier in the recruitment process was ill-advised. The failure to keep records fell well below the standards expected of senior public servants.
The manufacturing of the new enrolment figure was arguably dishonest, as was the deletion of the email. Similarly, the publication of false information in a media statement, and the provision of false or misleading information to the Premier and Minister Grace was also arguably dishonest.
A related allegation that the Minister for Education may be implicated in these issues was not substantiated. The CCC found no reasonable suspicion of corrupt conduct and no information uncovered during the investigation supported the allegation.
Pursuant to section 49(2)(f) of the Crime and Corruption Act 2001, the CCC has provided a confidential report to the Chief Executive of the Public Service Commission together with all relevant evidence gathered in order that he may consider whether disciplinary action, if any, should be taken against any individuals identified. Should such action be taken, those individuals will of course have a further opportunity to deal with any such allegations so made.
The publication of this report is designed to expose systemic failures of governance, transparency and accountability in the public sector. The CCC has made comments on the evidence in order to properly articulate aspects of the concerning failures identified. Nothing this report has to say about the evidence by way of such comment constitutes factual findings which would bind any other entity called upon to assess the evidence uncovered in this investigation.
Here's the investigation report in full.