An investigation into a $267,000 government grant to the Qld Premier’s right hand man has cleared him of any wrongdoing.
An investigation into a $267,000 government grant to the Qld Premier’s right hand man has cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Watchdog clears Premier’s former chief

Queensland's corruption watchdog has cleared Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's former right hand man of improper use of his position to gain a government grant for a business venture.

The Crime and Corruption Commission publicly released on Wednesday its report into former chief-of-staff David Barbagallo over whether he misused his position to obtain $267,500 in taxpayer funding for a company he was a director and shareholder of to develop an app.

The CruiseTraka app was designed to allow passengers to share their cruise experience with family and friends via social media and email.

The investigation did not find any evidence Mr Barbagallo misused his position to obtain funding from the Advance Queensland Business Development (AQBD) Fund, but he failed to "fully and accurately" declare his non-pecuniary interests, the CCC stated.

Former chief of staff David Barbagallo (right) looks on as Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks during an estimate hearings at Queensland parliament in Brisbane. He last worked for the Premier in October last year. Picture: Jono Searle
Former chief of staff David Barbagallo (right) looks on as Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks during an estimate hearings at Queensland parliament in Brisbane. He last worked for the Premier in October last year. Picture: Jono Searle

"The CCC considers Mr Barbagallo's failure to declare his interests to the Premier breached certain legislative and policy requirements of his former position, which would have provided grounds for consideration of disciplinary action if he had not resigned from his position."

Barbagallo's Declaration of Interests forms, which are required to be reviewed by Ms Palaszczuk, were not signed or dated by the Premier.

"Barbagallo maintains that he verbally told the Premier and the Director-General about his role in Fortress Capstone, and about Fortress Capstone's application for and awarding of co-investment funding from the AQBD Fund," the report stated.

"The state of the evidence is such that the CCC was unable to determine whether the Premier and the Director-General were aware of this information being provided by Barbagallo or through other means."

Former chief of staff David Barbagallo has been cleared of any wrongdoing although the CCC stated he did not fully declare his non-pecuniary interests. Picture: Jono Searle
Former chief of staff David Barbagallo has been cleared of any wrongdoing although the CCC stated he did not fully declare his non-pecuniary interests. Picture: Jono Searle

While the decision to award funding to Fortress Capstone was not the result of any improper influence, the investigation highlighted how conflicts of interests, if not properly managed, could create public perceptions of impropriety, the CCC said.

It said Mr Barbagallo held a position of high office and trust as the Premier's chief adviser, which afforded him considerable influence within the state government and there was an expectation that he behaved in an exemplary manner.

Mr Barbagallo finished up in October last year and had denied any wrongdoing.

Taxpayers were billed $27,235 for Ernst and Young's review of the $267,500 Advance Queensland Business Development Fund co-investment awarded to Fortress Capstone.

Originally published as Watchdog clears Premier's former chief


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