Premier ignores inconvenient truth about adviser

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk did not read a report she commissioned at taxpayer expense that found her right-hand man had not followed integrity rules before publicly declaring he hadn't done anything wrong.

And she still hasn't read it, despite being the one person responsible for ensuring he complied with the rules.

An audit requested by Ms Palaszczuk found no evidence former chief of staff David Barbagallo had declared applying for and receiving a $267,500 taxpayer investment in his business Fortress Capstone as a potential conflict of interest, even though it was one.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks with then chief of staff David Barbagallo during Estimate hearings.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks with then chief of staff David Barbagallo during Estimate hearings.

Neither was there evidence he had received Integrity Commissioner advice, despite him saying he had.

Yet six days after the Ernst & Young report was handed to her director-general Dave Stewart on August 30 last year, an ignorant Ms Palaszczuk publicly thanked and defended Mr Barbagallo as she announced his departure.

"I want to thank David for the work that he has done in my office ... I have accepted that resignation but I also just want to put on the public record that by no means says that he has done anything wrong," she said on September 6.

Ms Palaszczuk requested the audit after she was blindsided by questions about the lucrative investment to develop a cruise app at an estimates hearing in July last year.

Asked yesterday why the Premier had not acted on the report at the time, a spokesman said: "The Premier has not seen the EY report."

Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: Alix Sweeney

The long-awaited release of the EY report came a day after a Crime and Corruption Commission investigation found Mr Barbagallo had not declared his directorship of Fortress Capstone and would have likely been disciplined had he not already resigned.

It also uncovered emails between Mr Barbagallo and Fortress Capstone's chief executive that "clearly create the perception" Mr Barbagallo intended to use his position to assist Fortress Capstone advance their agenda.

But Ms Palaszczuk said "there was no finding that he did influence me", nor any finding of corruption.

"I hold integrity very dearly to my government and I'm very, very extremely disappointed. I feel let down," she said in Rockhampton.

David Barbagallo
David Barbagallo

"I mean, staff members have to abide by their obligations and some of those obligations in this circumstance were not met."

She said she had not misled parliament by saying her chief of staff had complied with integrity provisions because she had believed it to be true at the time.

The Premier also told parliament Mr Barbagallo had informed her of his successful application, but later told the CCC she had no recollection of being told by him.

Asked why she didn't sign Mr Barbagallo's declaration of interests to note she had read them, she said: "We have accepted all of the recommendations."

Originally published as Premier ignores inconvenient truth about adviser


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