Queensland’s chief scientist has been stood aside after being charged with fraud over a $45,000 private health insurance claim.
Scottish-born Professor Suzanne Miller is being investigated by the Crime and Corruption Commission and has been ordered to surrender both her UK and Australian passports.
Police allege the 52-year-old dishonestly gained private health insurance as an employee of the Queensland Museum between February 2014 and July 2017.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Miller, also the museum’s CEO, had been stood aside on full pay while the matter was dealt with.
“I was shocked, just like anyone else, but (the allegations) now need to run their natural course through the justice system,” Ms Palaszczuk told reporters on Tuesday.
Miller has been bailed and is expected to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on August 8.
Under bail conditions, she is not allowed to attend the Queensland Museum either as an employee or visitor.
Queensland Premier Anna Palaszczuk says she’s shocked by the allegations.AAP
She is also barred from directly or indirectly contacting any board member or former board member of the museum, as well as current or past employees.
Science Minister Leeanne Enoch on Tuesday praised Ms Miller’s work as the state’s chief scientist since starting last December, while also stressing the matter needed to be dealt with.
“The chief scientist has a very important role in Queensland and she has been incredibly successful in terms of putting science at the front and centre of not just Queensland but Australia,” Ms Enoch said.
“There is a CCC investigation underway, I am not going to make any comments than would impact on that investigation in any way.”
Ms Enoch said she had only been made aware of the situation in the last 24 hours, and had not yet spoken to Miller.
Miller had been due to appear during budget estimates hearings on Tuesday afternoon, but was withdrawn from appearing.
Queensland Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said the issue was another crisis the government would have to deal with.
“This isn’t a government that is governing for Queensland, this is a government that is lurching from bushfire to bushfire, trying to stay in office,” Mr Nicholls said
Miller has a lengthy and impressive resume and, before moving to Queensland, was the director of the South Australian Museum from 2007 to 2013.