Former Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has been cleared of any wrong doing relating to the appointment of a school principal in her Brisbane electorate.
The Crime and Corruption Commission today released it’s findings into allegations Ms Trad had interfered in a Department of Education recruitment process that was selecting the principal for the new Inner City South State Secondary College.
Following the six-month investigation, which involved interviewing a number of people, examining witnesses and obtaining documentation and electronic records, the CCC cleared the former Deputy Premier of any corrupt conduct.
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“There is no prima facie case that the former Deputy Premier has committed a criminal offence or that she was motivated by any dishonest or corrupt intent,” the CCC said.
“Notwithstanding this, the nature of her involvement in DoE (Department of Education) decision-making created a corruption risk.
The Corruption Watchdog did however note that while the “Deputy Premier did not intend to influence decision-making in relation to the principal position” the manner in which the “Department of Education and specifically a Deputy Director-General approached the situation meant it had that result.”
During the investigation, CCC Chairperson Alan MacSporran QC said authorities uncovered “several practices that should be a concern to all Queenslanders”.
“The CCC identified some very worrying and disappointing practices during this investigation,” Mr MacSporran said.
“The CCC found that department officers and some selection panel members had very poor or no records of key decisions and we recovered an email that was the subject of an instruction to delete a public record”.
Mr MacSporran said they also discovered that the recruitment process has been interfered with by people not on the selection panel and that a candidate was misled by department officers.
False information had also been “published or used to make decisions.”
Principal Kirsten Ferdinands was given the top job at Inner City South State Secondary College last year after the school was reclassified based on new enrolment numbers, despite Tracey Cook already being selected by an expert panel.
“The manufacturing of the new enrolment figure was arguably dishonest, as was the deletion of the email. Similarly, the publication of false information in a media statement, and the provision of false or misleading information to the Premier and Minister Grace was also arguably dishonest,” Mr MacSporran said.
“The report outlines how some department officers thought it was a good idea or were aware of the idea to “test” a candidate during a meeting with the former Deputy Premier, even though the selection panel had made a decision.
“The former Deputy Premier did not instigate that meeting and was not a member of the selection panel, nor was a meeting part of the original recruitment process, so in the CCC’s view the meeting to “test” the candidate was entirely inappropriate.”
Ms Trad resigned from cabinet in May this year after the CCC confirmed it was launching an investigation into the allegation.
A report and all relevant evidence has now been provided to the Chief Executive of the Public Service Commission to determine whether any disciplinary action against those involved is necessary.
“Should such action be taken, those individuals will of course have a further opportunity to deal with any such allegations so made,” the CCC said.