Three members of Queensland’s Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee have called for an overhaul of government funding of the state’s criminal watchdog to “strengthen public confidence” in its independence and impartiality.
A five-year review of the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC), tabled in Queensland Parliament last week, made 30 recommendations including changes to coercive so-called ‘star chamber’ hearings, and reviews of the definition of ‘money laundering’ and of the CCC’s ‘prosecutorial practices’ during investigations into former councillors of Logan City Council.
Also included in the report, and not formally part of the CCC review, was a “Statement of Reservation” tacked on as the last page of the 144-page review signed by three LNP members of the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee (PCCC), including its Chair, Jon Krause.
The statement, which is co-signed by LNP MPs Michael Crandon and Dr Mark Robinson, said each year the CCC was required to make submissions to the Government’s Department of Justice and Attorney-General for its funding.
The PCCC currently comprises seven members – four from the Labor Party and three from the LNP.
Labor’s PCCC members are Melissa McMahon, Barry O’Rouke, Adrian Tantari and Deputy Chair Jimmy Sullivan.
“Such a process arguably creates the potential for the Executive Government to exert influence over the CCC as it ultimately controls the funding of the CCC,” the statement from three LNP members says.
“Various submissions were made to the (PCCC) in support of the concept of developing a funding model for the CCC that ensures its ‘funding independence’ from the executive arm of government.
“While acknowledge that this is a complex issue, it is very disappointing that the committee’s report does not even recommend consideration of this idea that, arguably, would strengthen public confidence in the independence and impartiality of the CCC while also maintaining a democratic oversight through, for example, the (PCCC).
“As it stands, the Government – ultimately – controls both the ‘purse strings’ and oversight of the CCC through the Executive and membership of this committee, respectively.
“Failure to address this issue of funding independence seems reflective of the Government’s intention to retain that ultimate control into the future, notwithstanding any well-made arguments to the contrary.”
During his appearance before the PCCC’s public hearings, CCC chair Alan MacSporran told the committee that independent funding would ensure the commission was not subject to funding decisions by an entity over which it was also required to have oversight.
Read the review.