Queensland integrity commissioner Dr David Solomon says safeguards are needed to ensure chief executives and directors-general are hired on merit.

Queensland’s integrity commissioner says more must be done to prevent nepotism and cronyism in the public sector.

Dr David Solomon says proper safeguards are needed to ensure chief executives and directors-general are employed on merit alone.

Speaking at the launch of a new Queensland-based think tank, Dr Solomon suggested those appointments should be scrutinised by parliament or an independent body.

He says while legislation requires public servants to be employed on merit, it isn’t universally applied.

“Sometimes it is suspended or amended to allow nepotism or patronage to prevail,” he said at Thursday’s TJ Ryan Foundation launch in Brisbane.

The Newman government was accused of nepotism in late 2012 after it emerged the son of then arts and IT minister Ros Bates had landed a high-paid job in the transport department.

Ms Bates resigned after pressure over the nepotism allegations, her contact with lobbyists and the amount of leave she had taken.

Her son Ben Gommers quit his job after business links between him, Ms Bates and the transport department’s then director-general, Michael Caltabiano, came to light.

Mr Caltabiano, who had told a government committee he had no prior professional links with Mr Gommers, was subsequently dismissed.

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was time to review the hiring of high-ranking public officials.

“I think that there needs to be a new process put in place, especially in relation to director-generals,” she said, adding her party would take Dr Solomon’s nepotism comments on board.

Dr Solomon said policies had so far ignored broader nepotism and patronage problems, such as using public positions to advance political associates, mates and cronies.

“Even more concerning than the standard jobs for the boys are appointments that newly elected prime ministers or premiers make to chief executive positions to replace incumbents,” he said.

A Queensland government spokeswoman said the framework already existed to ensure “ongoing high performance and accountability” of chief executives in the public service.