Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

In the wake of handing down a landmark report on accountability issues in Queensland’s public sector, Professor Peter Coaldrake says his review reveals a culture of public servants paying a high price for providing frank and fearless advice.

He handed down his final report titled Let The Sunshine In yesterday, which made 14 recommendations to strengthen accountability and integrity mechanisms in the Queensland government.

Professor Coaldrake spoke on ABC Radio Brisbane this morning, where he detailed culture issues within the public sector, but said it was not unique to the Palaszczuk government.

“The whole principal of public service – the noble tradition of public service – is that people do their jobs with a level of independent judgment, that they have no fear about providing advice, and that they do so frankly,” he said.

Professor Peter Coaldrake speaking in the ABC Radio Brisbane studio.
Professor Peter Coaldrake says “the tone in an organization is always significantly set at the top”.(ABC News: Mark Leonardi )

“I think the general message that came through from a lot of the people who spoke to us and from other things and people we’ve heard over a period of time, is that there can be a high price for that frankness.

“And the benefits of that frankness are outweighed by the potential risks that are associated with people not being happy or taking action against you, so behavioral issues are certainly important.

Tone ‘set at the top’

In the report Professor Coaldrake said the tone of cultural issues was set from the top, and today he reiterated while “integrity was everyone’s responsibility” leaders like the Premier had the most influence.

“The tone in an organization is always significantly set at the top,” he said.

“The top means in a context of government the premier or prime minister, it means ministers, it means directors-generals.

“Tone means a couple of things – it can mean the personal example, it can mean the style, it can be the policy ambition.

“The people who are at the top of any system have the most responsibility and should be most attentive.”

Shannon Fentiman speaks at a media conference in Brisbane
Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said the report “gives all of us that extra motivation to do better”.(ABC News: Michael Lloyd)

Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said the report had motivated the government “to do better”.

“He has not held back and his recommendations. I mean, what he suggested is bold and visionary, but he has not recommended a Royal Commission and I think if he thought one was needed, he would have recommended it,” Ms Fentiman said .

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