Queensland’s peak local government body has welcomed a report calling for more oversight of the state’s public sector corruption body.
A six month inquiry into Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) has made 32 recommendations including that the watchdog must seek advice from the DPP before bringing corruption charges.
The inquiry, headed by Tony Fitzgerald and retired judge Alan Wilson, was a recommendation of the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee following its investigation into complaints surrounding the dismissal of councillors from the Logan City Council.
The current report, handed down on Tuesday, concluded that “elements of the CCC’s structure and organisation … carried risks that manifested in the Logan Council matter”.
This included an “undue focus” on a ‘law enforcement’ approach and a lack of clarity about the duties and responsibilities of seconded police officers.
The CCC lacks, in our view, both internal and external checks and balances that appropriately addressed these risks.
Commission of Inquiry Relating to the CCC report
“The CCC lacks, in our view, both internal and external checks and balances that appropriately addressed these risks,” the report states.
More checks and balances
It makes 32 recommendations including:
- Introducing checks and balances in charging practices including requiring the CCC to seek advice from the DPP before laying corruption charges
- Enhancing operational oversight of corruption investigations via the establishment of a governance group
- Adopting a more holistic approach to address corruption
- Clarifying police secondment arrangements
- Better training
Logan City matter
It comes after a CCC investigation into Logan City Council led to the dismissal of councillors over charges that were later thrown out for lack of evidence.
The state government dissolved Logan City Council in May 2019 after a seconded police officer at the CCC charged the majority of councillors, including the mayor, with fraud.
However the fraud charges were later discontinued by the DPP because of lack of evidence.
LGAQ, which had pushed for an inquiry, has welcomed this week’s findings.
Ensuring independent oversight of CCC investigations before the laying of charges was a welcome step towards addressing the “serious failings” of the CCC and would ensure that what unfolded at Logan City was never repeated, President Alison Smith said.
Calls for compensation
Cr Smith said the peak welcomed a “fearless, rigorous and robust” CCC but, there have to be checks to ensure its power wasn’t abused.
“The LGAQ called for this Commission of Inquiry because what happened in the Logan matter damaged not just the livelihoods and reputations of those wrongly charged, but also the reputations of the CCC and the local government sector,” Ms Smith said in a statement.
The additional oversight recommended by the Inquiry is a critical check and balance that is currently missing and we look forward to the State implementing this and the Inquiry’s other 31 recommendations as soon as possible.
LGAQ president Alison Smith
“The additional oversight recommended by the Inquiry is a critical check and balance that is currently missing and we look forward to the State implementing this and the Inquiry’s other 31 recommendations as soon as possible.”
LGAQ also supports recommendations for a review of local government legislation regarding the suspension of councillors who have been charged with a disqualifying offence, saying the Logan matter had shown the consequences that could arise from it, she said.
“We would like consideration given as to whether the automatic suspension should only occur once a councillor has been committed to stand trial, or indicated their intention to plead guilty, to ensure those charged are not denied natural justice.”
Cr Smith has called for the state government to apologise to those affected by then CCC and offer compensation.
Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk says the government is considering its response.
The Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee’s report released last year found the CCC had exceeded the limits of its power and called into question aspects of the CCC’s operations.
The post LGAQ backs calls for more oversight of corruption watchdog appeared first on Government News.