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Friday, December 09, 2022

Questions over board appointments raised by Auditor-General loom over Queensland government

The Queensland government’s recruitment processes for state-owned corporations have come under scrutiny by the Queensland Audit Office, with a report finding positions should be advertised publicly to improve transparency and that no data is collected on the diversity of board members.

In its latest report, the Queensland Audit Office examined how four state government departments — which were responsible for the largest government boards — appointed and renewed members.

The review included Queensland Health; the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training; the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water; and Queensland Treasury.

These are responsible for overseeing 50 large state entities — with combined assets of $228 billion — that deliver energy, health, ports, water and rail services across Queensland.

Queensland Auditor-General Brendan Worrall made six recommendations to improve processes, including that the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC) update its guidelines for departments who managed recruitment for boards of those entities.

“These guidelines are 12 years old and do not provide strong guidance to departments on the benefits of a regular, formalized skills-gap analysis, of advertising positions openly, or on the importance of appointing people quickly,” Mr Worrall wrote in his report.

He also recommended that the DPC collect information on the diversity of board members and report, publicly, on how boards reflected the broader community.

“The government set a target in 2015 to achieve gender balance on most government boards,” he said.

“In 2021, the proportion of women on most boards was 53.7 per cent.

“While the Department of the Premier and Cabinet collects data and reports on the proportion of women on government boards and bodies, it does not collect it on other aspects of diversity.

“For example, it does not know how many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, [or] people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, or people with disability, are on the boards.”

Mr Worrall reported that the audit office had found that, while the state government departments completed suitability checks of such things as potential conflicts of interest, criminal history , bankruptcy and disqualified directors’ databases — only one checked academic qualifications.

“The Department of Health is the only department that has been checking academic qualifications,” he said.

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