Qld premier’s dept ignored bullying plea
Nikola Stepanov claims the Public Service Commission boss called her a “bitch on a witch-hunt”.
Queensland’s integrity commissioner says the premier’s department took no further action after a top public servant rejected her plea for mediation over his alleged bullying of her.
Integrity Commissioner Nikola Stepanov revealed on Monday that Public Service Commission chief executive Robert Setter allegedly called her “bitch on a witch-hunt” during a 2018 phone call.
Mr Setter has stridently denied that claim, while Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk suggested the pair “could sit in a room” and sort the matter out.
Dr Stepanov revealed on Tuesday that she asked the premier’s department for mediation with Mr Setter on March 8, 2021.
The integrity commissioner says Mr Setter refused later that day via email and the premier’s department has taken no further action.
“The current Director-General, Ms Rachel Hunter was aware of my request for mediation shortly after the time it was made, and was also aware of Mr Setter’s response,” Dr Stepanov told AAP in a statement on Tuesday.
“I have had no further contact regarding mediation.”
Premier Palaszczuk said she couldn’t confirm or deny if Dr Stepanov had made complaints about Mr Setter for legal reasons.
“If a public interest disclosure has been made then those matters cannot be discussed because by their nature they are a public interest disclosure,” she told parliament on Tuesday.
The revelations of alleged workplace bullying come as the Crime and Corruption Commission investigates multiple complaints about the PSC made by Dr Stepanov.
The most serious allegation is that the PSC seized a laptop from her office and wiped it in March 2021 without her knowledge or permission.
“I note that there are ongoing CCC investigations into matters relating to the PSC and my office,” the integrity commissioner told AAP.
“Those matters would have formed part of a mediation had the mediation occurred at that time (March 2021).
“In my view, it is not appropriate for there now to be mediation about matters which are material to active investigations.”
Liberal National Party leader David Crisafulli said the premier’s comments indicate she’s either out of touch with reality or is trying to protect Mr Setter.
“Because Mr Setter knows about Labor lobbyists, Mr Setter knows about the hit job on the Office of the Integrity Commissioner … Mr Setter knows about the raid and I reckon Mr Setter knows what’s on the laptop,” he told parliament.