The Queensland Government today revealed there would be “few if any public hearings’’ during the proposed six-month commission of inquiry into the state’s beleaguered Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC).
The Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General’s (DJAG) office today (7 Feb) released a statement saying the ‘Commission of Inquiry into the Crime and Corruption Commission’ would consult widely and invite public submissions during its probe, and it was unlikely public hearings would held.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last week announced the inquiry into aspects of the CCC as recommended in a report tabled by the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee (PCCC) last year.
Ms Palaszczuk said the 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 crime and corruption in Queensland and led to the creation of what is now the CCC.
In a statement released by DJAG – the department headed by Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman – said the inquiry’s commissioners had been consulted about the current terms of reference provided by the government and had not requested those terms to be extended.
The current terms of reference require the commission to investigate and make recommendations into three particular areas.
“(The Commission is) to inquire into and report and make recommendations with respect to the following matters – the adequacy and appropriateness of the structure of the Crime and Corruption Commission in relation to use of seconded police officers,’’ the statement said.
“(As well as) the adequacy and appropriateness of legislation, procedures, practices and processes relating to the charging and prosecution of criminal offences for serious crime and corruption in the context of Crime and Corruption Commission, investigations and the adequacy and appropriateness of section 49 of the Crime and Corruption Act (CCA) 2001.”
Section 49 of the CCA provides guidelines on how the CCC reports about complaints it deals with.
The DJAG statement said that as a result of the terms of reference, it was unlikely public hearings would be held.
“As part of their task the commissioners will consult widely and invite public submissions but the matters to which the terms of reference relate are such that there will be few if any public hearings,’’ the statement said.
“There have been a number of suggestions that the commissioners should request an extension of the terms of reference.
“The commissioners have carefully considered that matter and have decided that they will not make such a request.”
The formerly titled ‘Commission of Inquiry into the Crime and Corruption Commission’ commences today and comes three months after the PCCC tabled a report that found the CCC had it breached its duty to remain independent and impartial.
The finding 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”.
Two weeks ago, veteran barrister Alan MacSporran QC resigned after a more than six-year stint as CCC Chair.
Former New South Wales Ombudsman Bruce Barbour, who served a short stint as acting Queensland Integrity Commissioner, has been appointed acting CCC Chair.
Ms Fentiman said Mr Barbour had been appointed CCC Chair for “three months while the recruitment process for a permanent replacement is undertaken.’’