Queensland Corruption and Integrity Update – February 2023

7 March 2023
Daniel Maroske, Partner, Brisbane

This month’s Queensland Corruption and Integrity Update provides an overview of the recent Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee meetings and associated public reports, details findings of misconduct against a Toowoomba Regional Council Councillor, discusses the official corruption charges against Brisbane barrister Salvatore ‘Sam’ Di Carlo and highlights developments arising from the review of the Public Interest Disclosure Act.

Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee

On 3 February 2023, the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee (PCCC) held public meetings with the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Commissioner (Commissioner), and the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC).

Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Commissioner – Public Report

The Commissioner, Mr Michael Woodford provided an update to the PCCC on work undertaken since November 2022 and presented the Commissioner’s public report to the PCCC.

The public report covers the period from 9 November 2022 to 20 January 2023 and includes a progress update on the progressive work program of the Commissioner, including updates on intelligence data reviews, the audit of assumed identities, the supervision of CCC investigations, the provision of advice to the PCCC, and the receipt and assessment notifications of suspected improper conduct of CCC officers.

Crime and Corruption Commission – Public report

Crime and Corruption Commission Chairperson Mr Bruce Barbour presented the CCC’s public report outlining the activities of the CCC for the period from 1 October 2022 to 31 December 2022.

The report includes an update on implementation and delivery of recommendations from the Commission of Inquiry relating to the CCC (COI). The report notes that of the 32 recommendations from the COI, five have been completed, 17 are in progress and nine have been noted but not yet commenced. The report further notes that the CCC has received approval for additional funding ($5.81 million over five years) to enable the recruitment of the new positions recommended by the COI and supporting roles.

At the public meeting, Mr Barbour noted the CCC had established two committees in response to the COI recommendations. The new committees – the Corruption Investigations Governance Committee and the Corruption Investigations and Prevention Group – aim to ensure non-law enforcement avenues and outcomes are considered throughout corruption investigations.

The report includes performance outcomes from key areas of focus, including both major crime and corruption involving improper influence, abuse of authority and exploitation of public sector resources.

The report also outlines key statistics from the 2022-23 financial year, including statistical data about the corruption investigations.

Councillor Conduct Tribunal – Cr Wayne William Cahill – Toowoomba Regional Council

Following an expedited hearing, on 13 February 2023 the Councillor Conduct Tribunal (CCT) published its decision summary regarding the conduct of Councillor Wayne William Cahill of the Toowoomba Regional Council.

At a Council Meeting in 2017, Cr Cahill failed to declare that his wife owned land close to land proposed to be acquired by the Toowoomba Regional Council for development. The CCT held that Mr and Mrs Cahill were likely to gain a benefit from the proposed acquisition and development of the land.

The CCT determined that, on the balance of probabilities, Cr Cahill failed to deal with a real or perceived conflict of interest in an accountable way, as is required by s173(4) of the Local Government Act 2009. As such, his conduct involved a breach of the trust placed in him as a councillor and amounted to misconduct. The conduct was not disputed by Cr Cahill.

In considering orders, the CCT noted that the conduct was inadvertent and not deliberate or intentional. The Tribunal also considered additional mitigating factors such as Cr Cahill’s co-operation with the investigation, his willingness to participate in the expedited hearing process (thus reducing resources required in a contested matter), the lack of any previous disciplinary history and the conflict of interest training provided to councillors.

The CCT considered a public admission to be sufficient in the circumstances and ordered that Cr Cahill make a public admission that he engaged in misconduct at an ordinary meeting of the Toowoomba Regional Council.

Official Corruption Charges – Sam Di Carlo

Brisbane barrister Salvatore ‘Sam’ Di Carlo is facing charges of official corruption arising from his alleged relationship with former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Di Carlo offered Cr Pisasale gifts and services in return for support for a property development within council. It is further alleged that arrangements were made to ensure Cr Pisasale’s stake in the project was not documented and passed through Mr Di Carlo. Mr Di Carlo has pleaded not guilty to the allegations.

Mr Di Carlo’s trial is expected to run for three weeks, and will hear from witnesses from Ipswich City Council, the Crime and Corruption Commission, and Australian Federal Police Officers.

Review of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010

As discussed in the January Corruption and Integrity Update, submissions in response to the review of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 Issues Paper closed on Friday 24 February.

Gadens made a submission to the Review, highlighting its experiences advising public sector entities on managing, investigating and responding to public interest disclosures. You can read the submission here.

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Authored by: 

Angela Szczepanski, Director
Daniel Maroske, Director

This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.

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