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Queensland premier stands down energy minister after corruption investigation

The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has asked the energy minister Mark Bailey, to stand aside. Source: Dan Peled/AAP.

This material belongs to: The Guardian.

The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has stood down the state’s energy minister, Mark Bailey, after a damning investigation by the corruption watchdog.

The Crime and Corruption Commission investigated Bailey’s use of a private email account and found that, while it was not corrupt, there was “sufficient evidence to raise a reasonable suspicion of corrupt conduct” because he deleted his email account.

The energy and main roads minister allegedly used his personal account to conduct secret negotiations with an Electrical Trades Union official.

“I met with Mark Bailey tonight and I have asked him to stand aside as minister pending the outcome of the state archivist investigation into his deactivation of his personal email account,” Palaszczuk said on Wednesday.

She also said her office has been directed by the commission to develop “further explicit and formal advice to ministers regarding the requirement that they use their ministerial email address for all ministerial businesses”.

The state opposition leader, Tim Nicholls, has called on Bailey to resign over the matter and criticised the premier for taking so long to act.

“Clearly for six months this has been allowed to go on and the Premier only acts when she is cornered,” Nicholls told ABC Radio.

But the deputy premier, Jackie Trad, defended Bailey.

“We have to wait for the outcome of the investigation but I personally believe that Mark has been an outstanding minister,” she told the ABC. “This has been an error in judgment.”

The state opposition used Thursday’s budget estimates hearings to put further pressure on the government, opening the session with a question to the attorney general, Yvette D’Ath, about whether she had ever used a private email account.

D’Ath replied that she had used a private email account to print documents and speeches she needed for meetings.

A similar explanation was given earlier this month by the environment minister, Steven Miles.

LNP employment spokesman Jarrod Bleijie said there was a cloud over the entire Palaszczuk ministry.

“The CCC yesterday said the use of private emails is a breach of the ministerial handbook. You’ve just admitted you use private email addresses. Do you consider a breach of the handbook, and what do you intend to do about it?” Bleijie asked.

CCC head Alan MacSporran QC is due to front the estimates hearings later on Thursday.