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ABC News
Emilie Gramenz and state political reporters Kate McKenna, Rachel Riga

State archivist's report into Mark Bailey's 'Mangocube' email saga reveals union boss 'appeared' to have knowledge of cabinet vote

The report by Queensland's former state archivist was critical of now-Transport Minister Mark Bailey. (ABC News: Patrick Williams)

A confidential report about a Palaszczuk government minister's deletion of a private email account raised concerns at the time a union boss "appeared" to have knowledge of an upcoming cabinet vote and suggested how the MP vote.

The 2017 report by then-state archivist Mike Summerell to the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) looked into then-energy minister Mark Bailey’s private email saga.

The report raised a number of matters of "potential interest" to the CCC, including potential inappropriate lobbying of the minister.

Mr Bailey came under fire for his use, and subsequent deletion, of the private email account, sparking an investigation by the CCC which later found "no evidence" to suggest he wanted to "conceal corrupt conduct".

Former Queensland state archivist Mike Summerell, who's exit from the job has been controversial. (Supplied: Mike Summerell)

In the 2017 report, which was made public yesterday afternoon, then-state archivist Mr Summerell, identified 1,199 public records within the email account at the time of its deletion, more than 600 of which were required to be retained for periods ranging from two years to permanently.

Mr Summerell's view was that Mr Bailey's actions were likely to have resulted in multiple breaches of the Public Records Act.

However, because Mr Bailey reactivated his private email 26 days after he deleted it, Mr Summerell questioned whether it would be in public interest to attempt to prosecute him.

Union expected Minister to be 'on their side'

The report highlighted matters of "potential interest" to the CCC, including potential "inappropriate lobbying" and a breach of protocols around the management of cabinet-related material.

Mr Bailey's relationship with the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) was highlighted as a matter felt to be of "particular interest and relevance" to the CCC. 

Peter Simpson, who died in 2020. (ABC News)

Mr Summerell attached emails from then-ETU boss Peter Simpson, and said some were "trivial in nature" but some related to board matters and significant disputes with government-owned corporations (GOC) that Mr Bailey was a shareholding minister for. 

"They are frequently of a lobbying or advocacy nature and at times derogatory of the GOC officials and others," the report said.

"The content of some of the emails explicitly and implicitly implied an expectation on Minister Bailey to always be 'on their side'.

"Minister Bailey frequently responds in purely acknowledgement terms but on occasion does indicate he or others will follow up on the matters raised by the ETU."

Mr Summerell wrote that Mr Simpson's correspondence in many cases is simply aggressive, but arguably appropriate advocacy on behalf of his members, but at other times the correspondence "would seem to extend beyond simple advocacy."

Transport Minister Mark Bailey told state parliament today he had been cleared by the CCC after their investigation into the deletion of the email account.

"The independent watchdog, the CCC, fully investigated a complaint made by the [LNP] Member for Clayfield in relation to me in 2017," he said.

"The matter was finalised in September, 2017 and I was cleared of any wrongdoing.

"I apologised in 2017 and I stand by that."

Queensland ministers were banned from using personal email accounts in 2018.

Union appears to lobby on vote

A 2015 email exchange showed Mr Simpson, who died in 2020, appearing to lobby Mr Bailey about how to vote at an upcoming cabinet meeting related to WorkCover changes.

"You're apparently getting three options to vote upon tomorrow for the WorkCover changes," Mr Simpson said in the June 2015 email.

The Mangocube email has been an issue for the Palaszczuk government since 2017. (ABC News: Chris Gillette)

"A is the only one acceptable given we argued so strongly against what he did, even if B is the final position, the 'Reparations' should ultimately be what the worker would have lost under common law.

"An important one mate, we obviously hope you go for A."

Mr Bailey replied: "Will give you a call in the morning comrade."

In his report, Mr Summerell said there were a number of emails that arguably direct Mr Bailey as to how he should act in cabinet or in his role as a shareholding minister.

"Whether Minister Bailey took heed to these directions is something that the State Archivist has expressly avoided exploring," he said.

"The seeming ETU awareness of what Cabinet was discussing or about to discuss, sometimes in detail, was alarming."

'The amount of strings I pulled'

The state archivist characterised one 2015 exchange, titled "An Angry Email from a (REDACTED) Angry Man", as an email thread where Mr Simpson raised concerns that, in spite of the strings he pulled and effort to get Mr Bailey into parliament, he is failing to deliver in resolving a dispute between the ETU and Select Solutions/Ergon energy.

"I've spent the past five months or so talking up this government and our star recruit, you, telling all and sundry how you were going as our new minister, that all was tickety-boo," Mr Simpson wrote.

"I joked with a few of our guys about how long it would take the new crew to convince themselves that they got themselves into parly and into the ministry without any assistance from the union movement.

"Now we're starting to see lip service in a range of areas and disappointingly now yours."

Cabinet's budget notes circulated

Another email included in Mr Summerell's report is a 2015 missive from union member Noel Morris, outlining a list of what he called "LNP supporters from within the bureaucrats".

Also included is a 2016 thread from now-Deputy Premier Steven Miles to private accounts of ministers Jackie Trad and Mark Bailey, titled "Cabinet in Confidence — EHP CBRC".

The state archivist characterised it as notes circulated for an upcoming meeting of the Cabinet Budget Review Committee relating to Environment and Heritage Protection. Mr Miles was environment minister at the time.

Mr Summerell raised concerns in the report about breach of protocols around the management of cabinet-related material, and the management of ministerial records in general.

Mr Miles strategy post the Adani mine decision is seen being discussed in the emails. (ABC News: Michael Lloyd)

Mr Miles's email included "Key Points" outlining that "recent government decisions" required the Labor government to "rebuild credibility on the environment" and advocated for more spending. 

Mr Miles wrote: "By spending the same, or in some cases less than LNP, we send a message the environment is not a priority for Labor." 

"Post Adani decision, it is critical that we develop and resource climate mitigation strategy and programs.

"Doing good work on this will buffer us from criticism of resource projects, we can't say Adani emissions aren't our responsibility when we don't properly fund efforts to address the emissions that are our responsibility."

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