Queensland will have a stronger, more effective and independent watchdog following important reforms passed in Parliament overnight.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie said the Government had listened to community consultation and accepted the majority of amendments recommended by the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee, including providing its oversight Committee the power to veto the appointment of commissioners.
“The new Crime and Corruption Commission will be a modern, unmuzzled watchdog that will fearlessly and effectively tackle serious crime and corruption in Queensland, something the old Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) was unable to do,” Mr Bleijie said.
“It will be better equipped to go after the criminal Mr Bigs and corrupt officials, whatever their political persuasion.
“We are keeping our promise to Queenslanders that we would revitalise frontline services and restore accountability in government.
“The sad reality is the CMC was plagued with problems. Three independent reports all found serious issues with its internal structure, administration, culture and complaints handling processes.
“The CMC was being used as a political weapon by the Labor Party while being flooded by minor, malicious and vexatious complaints.
“Maladministration within the Commission also led to thousands of confidential and sensitive documents from the Fitzgerald Inquiry being made available to the public, potentially putting witnesses at risk, while others were accidentally shredded. It also lacked accountability and transparency.
“We are restoring integrity to an important body that was being abused.”
- creating a new role of Chief Executive Officer, who will responsible for the CCC’s administration
- overhauling the complaints process to allow the CCC to focus on its core activities
- giving the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee (PCMC) the power to veto the appointment of commissioners, mirroring the processes of most other jurisdictions, including New South Wales’ Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC)
Mr Bleijie said extra layers of accountability and transparency were also part of the restructure.
“The PCMC will no longer constantly hold its hearings behind closed doors. It will now hold open hearings under nearly all circumstances, meaning the CCC’s hierarchy will be under more scrutiny than it ever has been before. They will be grilled by Members of Parliament of all political persuasions in front of the media and the community to ensure Queenslanders’ interests are being protected.
“The Parliamentary Commissioner will also have the power to investigate complaints against the CCC, ending the old, unacceptable practice of allowing the Commission to investigate itself.”
Mr Bleijie thanked everyone who had made submissions during the committee consultation process.
“Debate on this important issue was healthy and the Government accepted the majority of the Committee’s recommendations,” he said.
Accepted recommendations include:
- amendments that expand the types of exceptional circumstances that exempt a complainant from submitting a statutory declaration, which includes anonymous whistle blowers
- clarifying the new Commission’s priorities – corruption and crime will be investigated equally
“The reforms are in addition to greater powers and $7 million in additional funding that the Government gave the Commission last year to tackle organised crime,” Mr Bleijie said.
“Queenslanders can now have greater confidence in the new CCC’s ability and independence.”