Supreme Court rejects bid to block CCC report on alleged corrupt conduct

A high-profile lawyer has failed in his Supreme Court application to prevent a Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) report compiled into alleged corrupt conduct while he was Queensland’s Public Trustee being made public.

Brisbane Supreme Court Justice Peter Davis on Friday (10 September) dismissed an application by Peter Damien Carne to prevent the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee (PCCC) from providing a copy of the report, at the request of the CCC, to the Speaker of Queensland’s Legislative Assembly.

The ruling means details of the contents of the report could be made public at any time, but could also be the subject of appeal to the state’s highest court.

Justice Davis, in a 41-page decision, said: “Peter Damien Carne was the Public Trustee of Queensland.

“He is mentioned in a report prepared by the CCC into alleged corrupt conduct by him. The CCC has forwarded the report to the PCCC and has asked the PCCC to direct that the report be given to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

“The significance of such a direction is submitted by Mr Carne to be that the report may then be published … and would be cloaked with parliamentary immunity.

“Mr Carne seeks various relief in relation to the report and the CCC’s actions in requesting the PCCC to direct that the report be given to the speaker.”

Mr Carne took on the role of Queensland Public Trustee from March 2009 until March 2014 and then again from March 2016 until 31 July 2020 when his resignation became effective.

Justice Davis, by way of background, said: “In June 2018, an anonymous person (the informant) claiming to be an employee of the Public Trust Office alleged to the CCC that Mr Carne had been involved in corrupt conduct and was guilty of maladministration.

“The informant asserted that the delivery of the information to the CCC constituted a ‘public interest disclosure’ for the purposes of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (the PID Act). An informant making a public interest disclosure attracts various protections under the PID Act.

“Further correspondence from the informant was received by the CCC in August 2018 and a corruption investigation was commenced by the CCC in September 2018.”

As a result of the ongoing CCC investigation Mr Carne was suspended in June 2019 and the details of allegations levelled at him so far remain unknown.

In dismissing Mr Carne’s application, Justice Davis said: “The report of the CCC is a document which is a ‘report’ for the purposes of s69 (1) of the CC Act (Crime and Corruption Act 2001) if the PCCC directs the (CCC) to give the report to the speaker.

“The preparation of the report and resolution of the CCC to seek a direction from the PCCC pursuant to s69 are proceedings of the Parliament.

“Mr Carne’s application seeks to impeach or question those proceedings… The application (made by Mr Carne) must be dismissed…”

The section of the Act referred to, s69 of the CC Act, pertains to the tabling of CCC reports in Parliament.

Read the decision.

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