A former senior Education Department bureaucrat — who was stood down over a corruption probe involving the selection of a Brisbane school principal — has received almost $100, 0000 while suspended.
Jeff Hunt was stood aside from his role as deputy Director-General of Corporate Services in May after the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) launched an investigation into the recruitment and selection process for the principal of the Inner City South Secondary College in Brisbane’s Dutton Park.
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The probe looked at the involvement of then deputy premier Jackie Trad, who represented the electorate where the school was being built, after she held meetings with candidates Kirsten Ferdinands and Tracey Cook during the recruitment period.
Last year, Ms Cook was selected by a panel for the principal role but weeks later the position was re-advertised at a more senior level based on modelling that the school would likely outgrow its projected size, and Ms Ferdinands was instead appointed.
Ms Trad stood down from her ministerial duties over the investigation earlier this year.
The CCC findings released in July this year cleared Ms Trad of any wrongdoing but found a meeting between Ms Trad and Ms Cook was instigated by Mr Hunt as a “test”.
In an estimates hearing in state Parliament, Education Department-Director General Tony Cook confirmed Mr Hunt had been suspended with pay and had received almost $100,000 since May while suspended from his role.
“The allocation that we’ve got is a net figure of $99,000,” he said.
Paid ‘to watch Netflix at home’: Opposition
The Department of Education annual report showed Mr Hunt’s annual salary is $308,000.
Opposition MP Dr Christian Rowan asked the Education Minister Grace Grace whether it was appropriate for a public servant under investigation to receive taxpayer funds “to watch Netflix at home”.
“This is a public servant, there are directives about what these people are entitled to if they are under investigation,” Ms Grace said.
“Remembering that some of these can take a while and everyone is deemed innocent until proven guilty.”
Mr Cook said the Public Service Commission was still investigating the matter and could not give a timeframe on when it would be finalised.
In the hearing, Ms Grace was also repeatedly asked by Opposition MP Fiona Simpson and Dr Rowan to reveal the identity of an MP referenced in the CCC’s report.
The report said Ms Trad held a meeting with a potential applicant in May this year “as a favour to a Member of Parliament” but that Ms Trad told the MP she wasn’t involved in the recruitment process.
“The CCC gave a public report, if the CCC felt that they needed to name or to put anything in their report — they are free to do it,” Ms Grace said.
“The report is public, there are no inferences in relation to that matter whatsoever.
“If they [the LNP] want to know who the mystery MP was then I suggest that they write to the CCC.”