Queensland’s opposition has seized on the Crime and Corruption Commission’s concerns over ‘disproportionate’ lobbyist access, stepping up calls for a royal commission into the Palaszczuk government’s decision-making processes.
But the Labor government pushed back on the suggestion and insisted its rules on lobbyists were the strictest in the country.
The CCC on Friday announced an expansion of its investigation into lobbyists’ influence on state government, including an audit of contact records, after a recent increase in access to senior government officials.
The corruption watchdog has made a rare public statement to candidates ahead of the 2020 national elections about the dangers of undue influence.
“Since then, data from allegations made to the CCC, as well as its own investigations and intelligence, clearly indicate that the corruption risks associated with influence practices – the means by which people gain access to elected officials and public sector decision-makers in order to to effect or encourage a particular outcome – have intensified,” noted its working paper, released on Friday.
“While in many circumstances access to government decision makers is legitimate and in accordance with applicable regulations, corruption risks can still arise.”
Opposition Leader David Crisafulli, in Calliope for Callide’s by-election on Saturday, described the CCC’s announcement as “one of the most extraordinary developments in Queensland’s integrity crisis”.
“It shows a culture that is rotting across state government, a culture where lobbyists have unfettered control and access and where it’s all about the inner workings of the political process, not how we can serve the people. Queenslanders,” he said.
“Make no mistake, these are damning and damning allegations and when you have a situation where a large percentage of public officials feel intimidated and corruption is rampant, it shows you that there is something radically wrong with the State government.”