A former lawyer for Daniel Andrews was hired by WorkSafe while the workplace watchdog was investigating the Premier’s Private Office.
The engagement of Steve Palmer, who quit his role as the Premier’s lawyer last year, has raised concerns about a perceived conflict of interest.
Mr Palmer was hired earlier this year to work directly with a WorkSafe board director to develop and provide advice on initiatives to improve outcomes for injured workers.
WorkSafe said Mr Palmer’s extensive experience in the workers compensation scheme over more than 20 years made him an ideal candidate.
But WorkSafe sources said the appointment had raised concerns because the appointment came as the agency was investigating the Premier’s office over bullying claims.
WorkSafe launched an investigation into the alleged harassment of former Labor MP Kaushaliya Vaghela, and subsequent handling of complaints, in February.
It announced earlier this month it had concluded the investigation and would take no further action.
The Herald Sun is not suggesting Mr Palmer’s appointment actually created a conflict of interest.
The decision prompted Ms Vaghela to refer the matter to the Victorian Ombudsman because she believed WorkSafe had failed to properly investigate.
Mr Palmer was named in documents provided to WorkSafe by Ms Vaghela as part of its investigation into the Premier’s office.
She said she spoke to Mr Palmer on several occasions regarding bullying she said she was enduring by associates of the Premier.
She said in a conversation with Mr Palmer in May last year, he said he was unable to do anything.
“I spoke to Steve Palmer for help again to stop the bullying behaviour. I explained to him everything. After listening to me he said what’s happening to me is not right but issues regarding staff are not under his control,” she said.
Mr Palmer had provided similar advice in December 2019.
Source: Herald Sun