Queensland’s corruption watchdog voices concern Newman-era reforms reduced its power

Queensland’s corruption watchdog wants to wind back Newman government changes to its operations that it says “undermined” its independence and effectiveness.

A parliamentary committee is conducting a review of the legislation governing the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC).

In its submission to the review, the CCC said while a number of the former government’s reforms had enhanced its focus on serious corruption, others had constrained its ability to protect the public.

Under the changes, the CCC must seek ministerial approval before undertaking research into areas such as crime and corruption prevention.

The body’s acting CEO, Kathleen Florian, told the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee (PCCC) this was a problem.

“The requirement for the CCC’s research program to be approved by the Minister we would submit undermines the independence of the Triple-C and its research program,” Ms Florian said.

“The CCC must identify priorities for the research it proposes to undertake for up to one to three years out.”

“We’ve found in the last year that it’s very difficult for the research plan to be responsive to changes in the environment.”

‘We are not simply focused on outlaw motorcycle gangs’

Another Newman-era change requires people to complete a statutory declaration when making a complaint – an attempt to stamp out vexatious claims.

But CCC chairman Alan Macsporran said this may be inhibiting people from engaging with the watchdog.

“We believe this is a barrier between us and the public, and an impediment towards doing the job Queenslanders expect us to do,” Mr Macsporran told the PCCC.

The CCC also wants a new definition of a “criminal organisation”, warning the current definition is limited and hard to apply to groups other than criminal motorcycle gangs.

Mr Macsporran said the CCC’s focus was broader than that.

“There is a need to maintain some flexibility and monitor other groups and activity generally, and themes as it were of organised criminal activity outside the outlaw motorcycle gangs,” he said.

“It should be of some comfort to members of the public that we are not solely focused on outlaw motorcycle gangs.”

The PCCC will consider the recommendations.

Source: ABC News