Annastacia Palaszczuk was repeatedly questioned whether the findings from the review into the culture and accountability of the public sector “troubled” her as she refused to apologise to those who had been bullied.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has butted heads with a journalist over the findings from a damning review into the culture of the state’s public sector.
The 131-page report titled Let The Sunshine In was handed down on Tuesday by Professor Peter Coaldrake who found the culture was “too tolerant of bullying” and dominated by “short-term political thinking”.
He made 14 recommendations to strengthen the accountability and integrity mechanism in the Queensland government, which included the release of Cabinet documents within 30 days and whistleblower protection.
Ms Palaszczuk – who was forced to postpone her press conference on the findings a day earlier due to an emergency dental appointment – was asked by a journalist on Thursday if the report troubled her as it happened under her leadership.
“I embrace it. It doesn’t trouble me. I asked for this. I embrace it,” she responded.
The journalist then questioned why she was not concerned about the details from the scathing document.
“Because it’s a health report,” the Premier quickly hit back.
Ms Palaszczuk stopped briefly when the same journalist tried to ask another question before she offered her position on why it did not trouble her.
“No, I actually think … OK. I think this is a good thing for government,” she said.
“I asked for it. Peter Coaldrake has delivered it and now we’re going to implement all the recommendations.”
A journalist later in the media conference asked the Sunshine State leader: “If it doesn’t trouble you, do you concede it will trouble Queenslanders?”
“What I concede is this is a health check on government,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“What I’m saying is, I have read it and I’m implementing it and I’m taking personal responsibility for ensuring the recommendations are implemented.”
The Queensland leader declared she accepts the findings “lock, stock and barrel” and takes responsibility for the bullying and intimidation within her government.
Ms Palaszczuk declared “we will get this fixed” and has accepted the more than a dozen recommendations from Professor Coaldrake in the report.
One of the the suggestions in the document was to release Cabinet papers after 30 days instead of 30 years – a move she would push forward with and one that she believed was “ground-breaking and revolutionary”.
“This is the most fundamental change that this state and this nation has ever seen,” she said.
“I’ve been a person who studied government, I studied overseas, I’ve been a lawyer, I’ve worked in government for most of my adult life – the confidentiality of cabinet has been for 30 years and now that will be completely overhauled for 30 days.
“That is incredibly brave thinking and for a government to embrace it is revolutionary.”
Professor Coaldrake referenced New Zealand where its government adopted to release Cabinet papers within one month.
Director-General David Mackie will lead the implementation.
But Ms Palaszczuk stopped short of passing on an apology to those who had come forward with the bullying allegations against government staff who pressured public officers into withholding facts and altering reports.
“I think everyone needs to be treated with respect,” she said, before praising the public service of more than 200,000 workers for helping Queensland get through natural disasters and “prepare the best budget the government has ever seen”.
“Honestly, if people are not doing their job and they’ve got time to belittle and have a go at other public servants, it’s time to move on.”
The Premier then stressed the importance of “regular” training in preventing future incidents from happening.
The report will go to Cabinet on Monday but the date of when the reforms will be implemented will be determined by the parliament’s schedule.