The Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission released a statement yesterday indicating it would not be taking any action in relation to allegations about former Minister Merri Rose. The allegations were referred to the Commission on Friday by Nationals frontbencher Rob Messenger.

The CMC says that no additional information has been provided in addition to material already with the Commission. However, Crikey understands that the Commission received a transcript of Messenger’s interview with a former Rose staffer corroborating elements of the statement by Rose’s former personal secretary Barbara Daddow, which was the basis for the Commission’s previous investigation.

Daddow declined to assist the Commission and died in 2006. Crikey has been told that Ms Daddow destroyed documents relating to her employment by Rose, out of fear the material would make her a target of the Queensland Government.

Peter Beattie reacted furiously to the allegations, threatening litigation. He appeared to miss the point that the allegations related entirely to actions by Merri Rose.

As Crikey has consistently said, the primary issue here is the way politicians treat their personal staff. Ms Daddow went through an appalling ordeal as a consequence of her time with Rose, and former colleagues say it directly contributed to her death. Another staff member of Rose has also since died. Perhaps contrary to Mr Beattie’s view, people’s lives are more important than politicians’ reputations. There is still no adequate accountability mechanism for the management of staff by politicians except the clumsy method of public exposure.

Stepping back from the Merri Rose case, let’s name some of the most recent instances of politicians’ treatment of those who work for them:

  • Troy Buswell’s chair-sniffing and bra-snapping antics;
  • Queensland Emergency Services Minister Pat Purcell physically assaulting two public servants, denying it for months until the eve of a trial on the matter, and then admitting it;
  • The sacking of Gillian Sneddon after she helped reveal the crimes of Milton Orkopoulos;
  • WA Minister Fran Logan’s staffer threesome fantasies;
  • The treatment of Teresa Mullan by the Beattie Government over the “Winegate” affair;
  • Kevin Rudd telling public servants to quit complaining because their workload was going to get worse.

Politicians continue to offer soothing words about work-life balance and fair employment practices. Many of them don’t come close to practising what they preach. It’s called hypocrisy, and it’s a vital ingredient in public life. But not when it hurts and kills people.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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