Qld premier avoids grilling over emails

·3-min read

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has avoided a public grilling over her controversial private emails, but the opposition insist the issue is not going away.

Speaker Curtis Pitt has knocked back the opposition's bid to refer the premier to the Ethics Committee over allegations she misled parliament about the emails on February 28, 2017.

Ms Palaszczuk told the House on that day she had not used her private email account for "official purposes".

In one of her publicly released emails, current Transport Minister Mark Bailey asked her about Paul Simshauser's political leanings before his appointment as director-general of energy and water in 2015.

Speaker Curtis Pitt ruled that the premier's comments weren't misleading, but a "question of semantics".

He says her email contents could be easily be classified as "party political" rather than "official purposes".

"Therefore, I will not be referring the matter for the further consideration of the House via the Ethics Committee," he said in a ruling on Thursday.

Opposition integrity spokeswoman Fiona Simpson said she respected the Speaker's decision but did not agree with it.

She vowed to pursue the matter because "there's a lot of smoke here that's still not been cleared up".

"This issue is not going away," Ms Simpson said on Friday.

The Liberal National Party has previously made a Right To Information (RTI) application to access more of the controversial emails.

An RTI officer in the premier's department initially approved their request, but it was blocked by "a third party" at the last minute.

Former state archivist Mike Summerell previously said the premier's private emails should be retained as "official records".

The opposition last month asked him to investigate her other emails held by the state archives.

However, Mr Summerell left his role just hours after receiving the LNP's request.

In his final state archives annual report, released in March, he warned that laws had not kept up with advancements in communication technologies.

He warned of increasing incidents of "failures in recordkeeping, some with tragic consequences".

"New communication technologies are creating new challenges for public authorities, the volume of public records in particular being created is a significant challenge," Mr Summerell wrote at the time.

"There is a risk that the Act is inadequate to meet these challenges.

"There is an increasing risk that key public records that should be made and preserved for the benefit of current and future generations may be lost, or worse, never created at all."

Ms Simpson said it was evident that Mr Summerell had left his role because the government had disagreed with him and forced him out.

"It is extraordinary that we've now the situation where there is no state archivist," she said on Friday.

"The contract has come to an end, and they disagreed with the state government's opinion about using private emails for public purposes.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said that independent processes had failed to find any wrongdoing by the premier.