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peter coaldrake ao

Queensland politics has been dominated by two significant events throughout June: the delivery of the 2022/23 State Budget, and the release of Peter Coaldrake’s final report and recommendations following his review into culture and accountability in the Queensland public service. 

The Palaszczuk Government pitched health as the centrepiece of their mid-term budget, with a record commitment of $23.6 billion, across the forward estimates, for frontline services and a significant new infrastructure program to deliver 2200 new hospital beds, three new hospitals, expansions to three tertiary and eight regional hospitals and a new Queensland Cancer Centre.  

However the positives in the budget – including an extra $1.6 billion investment in much needed mental health services – were quickly overshadowed by allegations the Premier and Treasurer had broken an election commitment not to introduce any new taxes.  The Government’s mental health funding commitment is underpinned by a wage levy, while new progressive resource royalty tiers coming into effect from 1 July are forecast to deliver an additional $1.2 billion over the forwards. Queensland’s resources sector has vocally opposed the increased royalties but the Government has remained steadfast and is no doubt more focussed on ensuring this additional revenue pays it dividends in regional Queensland. 

Meanwhile, the Coaldrake Report handed down earlier this week made 14 significant recommendations that strike at the heart of Queensland government culture. The media and Opposition’s response has focussed on Coaldrake’s recommendations relating to the regulation of lobbying activities. However, less attention has been given to the report’s recommendations about the operations of key government agencies:  

  • The independence of the Auditor-General and various integrity agencies is to be strengthened; 
  • both the Public Service Commission and Crime and Corruption Commission have been put on notice to lift their game and refocus their attention on core responsibilities; 
  • The Queensland Ombudsman is to be given more power to investigate complaints against private organisations carrying out functions on behalf of the government; and 
  • Directors-Generals and agency CEOs have been recommended to be placed on fixed term, five year contracts, unaligned to the electoral cycle. 

Despite the Premier committing to implement the report’s recommendations “lock, stock and barrel”, only time will tell if this is enough to stop the integrity issues the Palaszczuk Government can’t quite seem to shake.  With more than two years to go until the next State Election, at the moment, time is on the Premier’s side, but she must act quickly. 

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