Former Electoral Commissioner Walter van der Merwe
Former Electoral Commissioner Walter van der Merwe Facebook/electoralcommissionqld

Resigned Queensland electoral commissioner Walter van der Merwe was drunk at work, often absent without reasonable excuse, and had been caught in a “compromising position” with an employee, according to an investigation. He resigned on Feb. 14 while suspended over a “serious allegation.”

Attorney General Yvette D’Ath showed the Queensland Parliament of the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) a summary of findings in Van der Merwe’s time as commissioner. She said five of the seven allegations against the former senior public servant have been substantiated.

According to the allegations, he “routinely” did not perform his job as Electoral commissioner. He was even apparently seen in a “compromising position with a temporary employee.” He was also drunk at work and often absent without reasonable excuse. Apparently, he also told directing senior managers not to regulate the behaviour of employees who were also his friends. He would allow action for unacceptable work practices against his friends, as well as overrule management decisions of senior managers when they were about his friends.

Van der Merwen also allegedly left locked containers in the ECQ offices. When those containers were seized, it was revealed that they contained steroids. It was suspected he used the drugs in the workplace. He paid a fine of $600 after he pleaded guilty last month after being caught with steroids.

Because he resigned on Feb. 14, any disciplinary action against him after that day would not apply anymore.

“As a public sector agency, it is crucial that the ECQ always retains the full confidence of the Queensland public and that it reflects the highest levels of ethics and integrity in the important work that it does,” D’Ath said. “Staff should also expect a healthy workplace culture that supports staff wellbeing.”

D’Ath will appoint an acting commissioner on Thursday. Deputy commissioner Dermott Tiernan has been holding van der Merwe’s job temporarily since the latter vacated his position.