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Qld premier sidesteps bullying questions

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she can’t say if the integrity commissioner complained to her office about being bullied and subjected to misogynistic slurs by a senior public servant almost a year ago.

Integrity Commissioner Nikola Stepanov revealed on Tuesday that Public Service Commission chief executive Robert Setter allegedly called her “bitch on a witch-hunt” during a 2018 phone call.

Mr Setter has denied the claim, saying he’s “appalled and saddened” by it.

The Liberal National Party opposition claims Dr Stepanov first complained about the PSC boss’s alleged comment and bullying more than a year ago.

Premier Palaszczuk says she can’t confirm or deny if that’s true for legal reasons.

“If a public interest disclosure has been made then those matters cannot be discussed because by their nature they are a public interest disclosure,” the premier told parliament on Tuesday.

“The leader of the opposition would understand that is the whole purpose of the act.”

The revelations of alleged workplace bullying come as the Crime and Corruption Commission investigates multiple complaints about the PSC made by Dr Stepanov.

The most serious allegation is that the PSC seized a laptop from her office and wiped it in March 2021 without her knowledge or permission.

The premier was also grilled in question time about her controversial suggestion on Monday that Dr Stepanov and Mr Setter “could sit in a room” and sort out the matter.

LNP leader David Crisafulli asked why anyone subject to “misogynistic slurs” should “get in a room with a bully”.

Ms Palaszczuk said no-one should be “called names” but workplace mediation was appropriate in the circumstances.

Dr Stepanov will finish up in her role in July despite the integrity boss saying on Monday she wanted to remain until the end of 2022.

She gave her notice in January that she would depart halfway through her second term in July.

But she told the parliamentary committee she had written to the premier saying she should stay on until December due to the CCC investigation into her complaints against Mr Setter.

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