The revered former judge who headed Queensland’s landmark Fitzgerald inquiry into systemic crime and corruption 35 years ago has been appointed head of a commission of inquiry into the state’s under-siege Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC).
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this afternoon (31 Jan) announced a Commission of Inquiry into aspects of Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission as recommended by the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee (PCCC) last year.
Ms Palaszczuk said the proposed six-month inquiry would be chaired by revered Queensland former Supreme Court judge Tony Fitzgerald AC, with the assistance of retired Supreme Court judge Alan Wilson QC.
Mr Fitzgerald conducted the landmark Fitzgerald Inquiry in the 1980s, which revealed systemic corruption in Queensland and led to the creation of what is now the CCC.
The announcement comes three months after the Queensland Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee tabled a report in Parliament recommending a commission of inquiry into the CCC’s structure after finding it breached its duty to remain independent and impartial.
The recommendation was made after the bipartisan committee looked into the CCC’s decision to charge eight Logan City councillors with fraud in 2019.
The PCCC also found the CCC discretion to charge the councillors miscarried “because all material considerations and evidence were not taken into account and weighed”.
The announcement also comes less than a week after veteran lawyer Alan MacSporran QC resigned from his role after more than six-years as the Chair of the CCC.
“It is clear a review of the CCC is needed. Who better than Tony Fitzgerald to conduct it?” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Mr Fitzgerald headed the historic inquiry that uncovered systemic corruption in Queensland 35 years ago.”
“He established the Criminal Justice Commission, later renamed the (the Crime and Misconduct Commission and then the) CCC, to continue the work of his inquiry.”
Ms Palaszczuk said the inquiry’s terms of reference were based on six recommendations in the PCCC’s report.
The committee recommended the Queensland Government instigate a review of the CCC’s structure regarding its investigatory and charging functions. It also recommended that the role of seconded police officers at the CCC, as a Commission of Inquiry or similar, be headed by senior counsel of sufficient standing to consider this structural basis of the CCC (that has its roots in the Fitzgerald Inquiry).
Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said Queensland owed Tony Fitzgerald a debt it could never repay.
“I am sure there is no one Queensland trusts more with this important work.”