This month’s Corruption and Integrity Update features details of the National Anti-Corruption Commission legislation recently passed, the Commission of Inquiry into the Queensland Police Service’s responses to domestic and family violence final report, details on the implementation of the recommendations arising from the Fitzgerald 2.0 report and updates on both the Public Sector Bill 2022 and the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010.
The final day of November was a historic day for Australia’s integrity framework, with the legislation establishing the National Anti-Corruption Commission being passed by both houses.
On 10 November 2022, the Joint Select Committee on National Anti-Corruption Commission Legislation produced its report on the National Anti-Corruption Commission Bill 2022 and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2022. The report made six recommendations, including an amendment to the proposed definition of ‘corrupt conduct’, extending the protections of journalists’ sources to include all staff within the relevant news organisation with knowledge of the informant’s identity, and requiring the NACC Commissioner to advise a person of the outcome of a corruption investigation if the Commissioner has formed the opinion or made a finding that the person has not engaged in corrupt conduct.
On 21 November 2022, the final report on the Commission of Inquiry into the Queensland Police Service (QPS) responses to domestic and family violence (DFV) was publicly released (the report). The report was commissioned in response to the recommendations of the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce in ‘Hear her voice Report One – Addressing coercive control and domestic and family violence in Queensland (2021)’.
The Commission of Inquiry examined:
The Commission, among other things:
The report made 78 recommendations intended to achieve direct, timely and measurable changes to improve QPS responses to DFV. Collectively, they are intended to support the structural and cultural changes required in the QPS to ensure that its members are best positioned to respond to DFV.
Included in the report is a recommendation that the Queensland Government establish the Police Integrity Unit as an independent and separate unit of the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) to deal with complaints in relation to police. The report notes that the vast majority of complaints against police officers are referred to QPS for investigation with limited or no oversight by the CCC.
In response to the report, the Queensland Government will invest $100 million in a range of reforms and initiatives to provide enhanced support and protections to those affected by DFV including:
The government will further consider the recommendations which complement the Commission of Inquiry relating to the Crime and Corruption Commission and the Coaldrake review.
The CCC has recognised the potential benefits of the report’s recommendations to establish a new and independent Policy Integrity Unit within the CCC and has noted the additional resourcing required to implement the recommendations.
On 9 August 2022, the Honourable Tony Fitzgerald AC KC and the Honourable Alan Wilson KC handed down their report on the Commission of Inquiry relating to the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC).
The CCC committed to implementing the 32 recommendations and has recently released its first quarterly report into the implementation and delivery of the recommendations.
The implementation report highlights that five out of the 32 recommendations have been completed, with the remaining recommendations categorised as noted, in progress, noted but not yet commenced or as falling outside of the responsibility of the CCC. The completed implementation of recommendations include:
|Recommendation 8||The Executive Director Corruption Operations be transition to a civilian position.||The role was reviewed and has been converted to a civilian role. The role was advertised on 11 August 2022, but a recruitment agency has been engaged to obtain a stronger pool of candidates.|
|Recommendation 12||Introducing a position dedicated to coordinate enhanced induction and ongoing raining activities.||The Human Capital Capability Director commenced in October 2022. The role aims to develop a program of work which relates to the CCC’s capability, training, and inductions.|
|Recommendation 15||Splitting the Corruption Strategy, Prevention and Legal unit into two separate units.||The Corruption Legal business unit was separated from the Strategy and Prevention business unit on 5 August 2022. The Executive Director Corruption Legal role has yet to be fulfilled.|
|Recommendation 17||The Executive of the Corruption Strategy and Prevention Unit is to have appropriate skills and functions.||The Executive Director Corruption Strategy and Prevention role was reviewed, and the responsibility for Corruption Legal was removed allowing for a greater emphasis on public sector experience.|
|Recommendation 22||Introducing a dedicated position of a Policy and Procedure Officer.||A new role was created titled the Director Policy, Risk and Compliance on 11 August 2022. A recruitment agency has been engaged to identify a stronger pool of candidates.
The initial priority of this role is to review the Operations Manual to embed the requirement to ensure a corruption prevention and policy perspective informs corruption investigations, and develop processes to improve coordination of the Operations Manual.
The CCC will continue to publicly release quarterly progress reports, which will supplement the current monthly reports on the implementation and delivery of recommendations.
On 25 November 2022, the Queensland Economics and Governance parliamentary committee tabled its reports into the Integrity and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 and Public Sector Bill 2022. The Committee has recommended that both bills be passed.
Throughout the committee’s consideration of the Public Sector Bill 2022, the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) and Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) each made submissions for the exclusion of the ECQ and QHRC from public sector review. The ECQ submitted that the proposed powers granted to a reviewing entity in a public sector review could “at best, undermine the independence of the ECQ” or “undermine public confidence in ECQ’s perceived ability to conduct free and fair elections.”
On 23 November 2022, retired Supreme Court judge Alan Wilson KC was appointed to lead a review into Queensland’s Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 (PID Act). This review implements a key recommendation arising from the Coaldrake Review.
The PID Act facilitates disclosure of information relating to wrongdoing in the public sector in circumstances where it is in the public interest. It also provides protections for those who make disclosures.
In announcing Wilson’s appointment, the Queensland Attorney-General stated that “public interest disclosure, or ‘whistleblowing’, plays an important role in our modern democratic government. It contributes to open, transparent and accountable government and public administration.”
The PID Act was last reviewed by the Queensland Ombudsman in 2017, with the review ultimately delivering 40 recommendations as to reform which have not been acted on. This review is expected to be completed by 30 April 2023, and we look forward to any updates that the review provides in the meantime.
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Daniel Maroske, Director
Angela Szczepanski, Director