Premier’s email fail as ‘Mangocube’ affair resurfaces
Annastacia Palaszczuk has been caught in a potentially-damaging new email scandal amid suggestions she breached her own ministerial integrity rules to discuss a high-level government appointment.
An explosive first day of Budget Estimates again placed integrity issues front and centre for the Palaszczuk Government as the Opposition produced a leaked email purportedly sent from Minister Mark Bailey's infamous mangocube email to 'email@example.com'.
The 2015 email, shown to Ms Palaszczuk, discusses Paul Simshauser before his appointment as director-general of energy and water and whether his "ideological perspective (is) contra to ours and contra to our platform".
The Premier did not confirm whether the email was genuine, said she couldn't recall it, and did not answer questions later about whether she had used the private email to conduct work business - an issue that kicked off the long-running and damaging mangocube integrity scandal.
A Crime and Corruption Commission probe into Mr Bailey found in 2017 he had breached the Ministerial Handbook - rules that govern integrity issues and enforced by the Premier - in using his private account for official business.
The Opposition last night demanded Ms Palaszczuk answer key questions around the email and that she "face the same scrutiny as Mark Bailey and Jackie Trad" - who were both subject of CCC investigations over integrity issues.
Mr Bailey was stood aside during an investigation by the state archivist for deleting his email account, which frustrated a Right to Information media request and temporarily destroyed hundreds of public records.
LNP Integrity spokeswoman Fiona Simpson said the latest email leak "goes to the heart of integrity in government and the credibility of the Premier".
"If the email is authentic, what business was conducted on the Premier's account and was that information made available to the state archivist and the CCC? If not, why not?" she said.
Under questioning from Ms Simpson, Ms Palaszczuk initially said she couldn't recall whether she had a Bigpond email account and would need to check.
When asked a moment later whether she had ever had a 'firstname.lastname@example.org' account, the Premier replied: "Yes I have."
Asked if the purported email was authentic, Ms Palaszczuk said: "I don't know, it's dark, I would have to check."
When then asked whether she wanted it read to her, the Premier said no.
Ms Palaszczuk told the hearing she had publicly said before that she had used a private account.
Asked whether she had used a private email account for work purposes, Ms Palaszczuk said: "Not since the code has been updated."
The Premier's office refused to say afterwards whether the purported email from 2015 had been received and whether she had replied to it.
"Unsurprisingly the premier has no recollection of an email from five years ago," a spokesman said.
"The CCC investigated emails from the mangocube account and found no illegality.
"The cabinet handbook was amended in 2018."
However, in 2017 the CCC found the use of a personal email account for ministerial purpose was "in breach of both the Queensland Ministerial Handbook and the Ministerial Information Security Policy" even before the 2018 changes.
Because those breaches weren't criminal, they didn't amount to corrupt conduct within the CCC's jurisdiction, the watchdog said.
In February 2017, the Premier told Parliament she had a private email but had never used it for official purposes.
The CCC's review identified a number of other ministers who had used private email accounts, with no corrupt conduct identified.
Ms Palaszczuk warned her ministers not to use private emails for work in the wake of the saga but in 2017 kept secret which ministers had been using them.
"We know nearly all ministers have private emails," she said at the time.
Mr Bailey's office would not say whether the purported email was legitimate, instead referring to the statement given by the Premier's office.
Meanwhile the Premier's Director-General Dave Stewart revealed he'd been subject to two CCC investigations during the past two years but hadn't stood aside for either.
Mr Stewart said the first claim was "vexatious", anonymous, and was not substantiated.
He said he could not speak about the nature of the current probe but said it was "quite public".
Asked why he didn't stand down during the investigations, Mr Stewart said he did not have to for the first claim and wouldn't comment on the current one.
Originally published as Premier's email fail as 'Mangocube' affair resurfaces