‘Worrying, disappointing practices’ in principal selection
JACKIE Trad did not commit a criminal offence, or show "dishonest or corrupt intent" when she inappropriately met a principal candidate for the Inner City South State Secondary College, the corruption watchdog has found.
The Crime and Corruption Commission has released a 178-page report into how the selection process for the principal went "off the rails" through the unethical behaviour of public servants.
Chair Alan MacSporran QC said this investigation uncovered "some very worrying and disappointing practices" during its investigation.
"The CCC found that department officers and some selection panel members had very poor or no records of key decisions, we recovered an email that was the subject of an instruction to delete a public record, a recruitment process was interfered with by people not on the selection panel, a candidate was misled by department officers and false information was published or used to make decisions," 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.
"All Queensland public servants and elected officials should read this report to see how a straight forward recruitment process went off the rails. This type of conduct should never occur again," Mr MacSporran said.
"There are vital lessons from this investigation that must be learned."
The CCC has forwarded a confidential report to the Chief Executive of the Public Service Commission to consider whether disciplinary action, if any, should be taken against any public servants identified in its investigation.
A statement from the CCC said there was 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.
Notwithstanding this, the nature of her involvement in DoE decision-making created a corruption risk, it said.
"The CCC concludes that, whilst the Deputy Premier did not intend to influence decision-making in relation to the Band 11 Principal position, the manner in which the DoE (Department of Education), and specifically a Deputy Director-General, approached the situation meant it had that result," the statement said.
"The decision to involve the Deputy Premier in the recruitment process was ill-advised.
"The failure to keep records fell well below the standards expected of senior public servants.
"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.
"A related allegation that the Minister for Education may be implicated in these issues was not substantiated.
"The CCC found no reasonable suspicion of corrupt conduct and no information uncovered during the investigation supported the allegation."
Ms Trad sensationally stood aside from her Cabinet positions on May 9 on learning she was being investigated by the CCC.
The next day, she resigned as Deputy Premier, Treasurer, and Minister for Aborignal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.
"She has made the decision in the best interests of her family, the community and the party," Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said at the time.
"She does not want there to be any distraction for the Government as we respond to the COVID crisis and where the Government must be focused on the recovery and jobs."
It later transpired that Ms Trad had been under investigation since December after Mr MacSporran revealed the assessment turned into an official investigation a month after it was referred.
However, the watchdog didn't tell Ms Trad for five months.
Education Department deputy-director Jeff Hunt also stood aside during the CCC probe.
Ms Trad was referred to the corruption watchdog by the Opposition over allegations she interfered in the independent appointment of the principal of the Inner City South State Secondary College.
Ms Trad has denied she had anything to do with the dumping of Tracey Cook - who had earlier been chosen to head the new school in Ms Trad's South Brisbane seat - following a meeting she had with her.
She has said she met with Ms Cook at the request of the Department of Education and then had a phone call with the subsequent successful principal, Kirsten Ferdinands, again at the request of the department.
The Education Department has maintained it needed to abandon the first round of recruitment and relist the job again in May at a more senior level based on new modelling that the school would surpass 1600 students.
The report containing the new demographic modelling was received by the department in January - the same month the position was first advertised.
Originally published as 'Worrying, disappointing practices' in school principal selection