A former New South Wales Ombudsman who served a short stint as acting Queensland Integrity Commissioner has been appointed as the temporary chief of the state’s criminal watchdog.
Bruce Barbour was on Friday appointed as acting chair of Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) – just days after the unexpected resignation of prominent barrister Alan MacSporran QC, who was in the role for more than six years.
Attorney-General and Justice Minister Shannon Fentiman said in a statement that CCC Ordinary Commissioner Bruce Barbour had been elevated to the position of acting chair until a permanent replacement for Mr MacSporran could be found.
Ms Fentiman said the position for permanent chair would be advertised nationally in accordance with section 227 of the Crime and Corruption Act 2001.
“Mr Barbour’s appointment is for three months while the recruitment process for a permanent replacement is undertaken,” the Attorney-General said.
She said government would then consult with the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee (PCCC) – an all-party committee responsible for the oversight of the CCC, its performance and activities.
The successful applicant – in accordance with the Act – will require the bi-partisan support of the PCCC.
Ms Fentiman said Mr Barbour had an impeccable track record in law and in audit and risk assessment.
“Mr Barbour has extensive experience in administrative law and conducting investigations, and held the highly-respected position of NSW Ombudsman for 15 years.
“He has the capability and skills to lead the CCC in the interim and has a thorough understanding of its operations since being appointed as an Ordinary Commissioner in 2021 with the bi-partisan support of the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee.”
Mr Barbour also spent short periods in 2019-20 as the Acting Queensland Integrity Commissioner while the Commissioner was on leave.
Last Tuesday (25 Jan), Mr MacSporran announced his decision to resign, with his decision taking effect from the close of business on 28 January.
Mr MacSporran said: “Many people have urged me to continue in this important role, despite the recent finding contained in the report of the (PCCC).
“However, I find myself in a position where, despite a career spanning in excess of 40 years, where my honesty and integrity have never been questioned, it is clear to me that the relationship between myself and the PCCC has broken down irretrievably.
“This saddens me deeply.
“As a Queen’s Counsel (QC) and criminal barrister, I came to the CCC with more than 40 years’ experience in the criminal justice system defending and prosecuting individuals in Queensland and Commonwealth jurisdictions, and brought extensive firsthand experience representing governments in commissions of inquiries and as a former Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Commissioner.
“In my long career, I have never, ever, let extraneous irrelevant considerations enter my thinking about a decision relating to the proper exercising of powers in proceedings as a Queen’s Counsel criminal barrister or as CCC Chairperson.”
In October, the PCCC tabled a report in Queensland Parliament which recommended 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”.