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Queensland integrity commissioner’s laptop wiped

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The Queensland premier is being urged to explain why the integrity commissioner’s laptop was allegedly seized and wiped without permission.

Dr Nikola Stepanov, who maintains the register of lobbyists and provides politicians with confidential integrity advice, announced her resignation last week midway through a three-year term.

Her decision comes with the Crime and Corruption Commission reportedly probing a complaint Dr Stepanov made against the Public Service Commission for seizing the laptop and wiping the device.

“The contents were subsequently deleted without my knowledge or consent,” Dr Stepanov told The Australian on Tuesday.

“Explain what was on laptop’

LNP leader David Crisafulli called on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and PSC chief executive Robert Setter to explain what was on the laptop.

“This isn’t the sort of behaviour that you see in a thriving democracy,” he told reporters.

“This is the kind of behaviour you see in places … overseas when we see it in China and Russia.”

Mr Crisafulli said the parliamentary economics and governance committee had held private hearings into the matter.

He said the minutes remain “under lock and key”, but he called for them to be published.

AAP has sought comment from the committee.

Mr Crisafulli said if Ms Palaszczuk, Mr Setter and the committee remained silent there would need to be a “full-blown inquiry”.

The PSC also allegedly altered security permissions and access to the integrity commissioner’s offices, News Corp reported in September 2021.

Ms Palaszczuk dismissed parts of that report as “speculation”, but referred it to the CCC and has since refused to comment on the matter.

Staff cut from four to one

In October, Dr Stepanov revealed her staff had been cut from four to one in her 2020-21 annual report.

The commissioner wrote that she was “very concerned” about illegal lobbying after a surge in recorded contacts between the state Labor government and lobbyists.

Ms Palaszczuk on Monday played down Dr Stepanov’s resignation, saying she was taking another position and would stay in her role until July.

The head of the agency reportedly investigating the laptop matter, CCC chairperson Alan MacSporran, on Tuesday resigned.

Mr MacSporran said his relationship with the watchdog’s parliamentary oversight committee had “broken down irretrievably”.

Cabinet is yet to respond to a report into the watchdog’s bungled probe into Logan Council, which recommended the CCC be reformed.

Ms Palaszczuk brushed off a question on Monday about how the public would perceive the situation.

“I don’t think they would think anything of it, people change jobs all the time,” she told reporters.

Dr Stepanov’s office said she would release a statement about her resignation late on Monday, but she later decided not to.

Mr Crisafulli said what began as an “accountability binfire” was now a “integrity inferno” because of the hubris of the government.

“Every time somebody dares question the premier and questions the government, their life becomes very uncomfortable,” the LNP leader said on Tuesday.

“That’s the sort of behaviour that governments experience when they stop listening. It smells a lot like a third term government that’s just given up caring about transparency.”

-AAP

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