Queensland’s top crime and corruption fighter will be refocused and revitalised while remaining strong and independent under a range of reforms to be introduced in Parliament today.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie said the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) would become the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC), with a clear objective to focus on organised crime and corruption.
“These reforms are about strengthening Queensland’s top crime and corruption fighter,” Mr Bleijie said.
“The new Commission will be able to do what the CMC was unable to do – focus on tackling serious, sophisticated criminal activity and corruption.
“The Government made an election commitment to Queenslanders that we would revitalise frontline services and they will now have a stronger, independent watchdog that will be more efficient, open and accountable.
“We recently gave the Commission greater powers and $7 million in additional funding to tackle criminal gangs and these further reforms will allow it to better fulfil its purpose.
“The reforms follow two independent reports that found significant issues in the CMC’s internal structure and complaints handling processes.
“As it stands right now, the CMC is hamstrung by its own governance structure and the high number of malicious, baseless or minor complaints.
“The Chair is currently forced to split his time between being both chief investigator and chief administrator.
“Under our reforms, a new role of Chief Executive Officer will be created and will be responsible for the CCC’s administration, allowing the Chair to concentrate on catching criminals and corrupt officials.”
To prevent baseless or malicious complaints, a statutory declaration will be required when a complaint is made. However, the CCC can waive that requirement under exceptional circumstances (e.g. fear of retaliation or a complainant’s literacy level or English competency).
Other reforms include:
•Overhauling the complaints process to allow the CCC to focus on its core activities
•Empowering the Parliamentary Commissioner to investigate claims of misconduct within the CCC
•Requiring Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee (PCMC) hearings be open to the public, with appropriate exceptions to protect classified information or ongoing investigations
•Requiring consultation with the PCMC when appointing CCC Commissioners (including the Chair, CEO and other Commissioners), but not requiring consensus support.
Mr Bleijie said the Government did not proceed with some recommendations that it originally supported in principle.
“We have consulted and listened,” he said.
“The Callinan/Aroney report recommended making it a criminal offence to make baseless or malicious claims or publish the fact that a complaint had been made.
“Following further consultation, Cabinet rejected those recommendations to ensure legitimate complainants weren’t scared away and Queenslanders’ right to free speech was protected.
“The Government has adopted the majority of the recommendations made by the PCMC, regarding the release and destruction of Fitzgerald Inquiry documents.
“These changes will improve the internal processes, practices and culture within the new CCC to prevent something like this happening again.”