This month’s edition of the Corruption and Integrity Update considers the latest report on the implementation of recommendations arising from the Commission of Inquiry into the Crime and Corruption Commission, the review of the QCAT Act, an appeal on the basis of the Queensland DNA Inquiry, an application for a permanent stay of corruption proceedings, and the most recent decisions of the Councillor Conduct Tribunal. Finally, we take a look at a recent instance of ‘fake lawyering’.
As detailed in our ‘Corruption and Integrity Update – November 2022’, the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) has committed to implementing the 32 recommendations handed down in the final report arising from the ‘Commission of Inquiry relating to the Crime and Corruption Commission’.
The CCC has recently released its second quarterly report (Report No. 2) on the implementation and delivery of these 32 recommendations.
The previous reported highlighted that the implementation and delivery of five recommendations had been completed. Report No. 2 provides an update on a further three recommendations, notably:
The CCC will continue to publish quarterly reports relating to the progress of the implementation and delivery of the 32 recommendations.
Additionally, the CCC recently put out a tender for consultation relating to the current state of the CCC Corruption function, stemming from the Commission of Inquiry. Tenders closed on 4 April 2023.
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), established in 2009, is set to undergo a statutory review of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld) (QCAT Act). It is reported that QCAT has been experiencing workload pressure due to increased demand for its services, increased complexity in matters and jurisdictions and budgetary constraints.
In accordance with its Terms of Reference, this statutory review aims to decide whether the objects of the QCAT Act remain valid and are meeting its objectives. The review will decide whether the provisions of the QCAT Act are appropriate for meeting its objects and investigate any specific issue recommended by the Minister or the QCAT President, including, for example, whether any provision of an enabling Act affects the effective operation of the tribunal.
The review will be conducted by a review team within the Department of Justice and Attorney-General and overseen by a government steering committee. A consultation paper will be released to the public by mid-April 2023, welcoming written submissions from the interested stakeholders. The review team will provide the Minister with a report on the review in early 2024, with a view to having the review completed and table the recommendations as soon as practicable.
Recent editions of the Corruption and Integrity Update have followed the findings of The Commission of Inquiry into Forensic DNA Testing in Queensland. As we have previously explored, the report released by Commissioner Walter Sofronoff KC provided damning findings outlining the failure of Queensland’s DNA lab. As a result of the findings, it is expected that there may be thousands of cases impacted.
Mr Andrew Cobby, who was found guilty of murdering his estranged wife in November 2021, is set to be the first convicted criminal to use the filings of the lab to seek an appeal. Mr Cobby’s appeal is on the basis of re-tested DNA samples that returned a DNA-link from an unidentified individual.
The appeal itself could open the floodgates for others who have been convicted on the basis of DNA findings to seek an appeal.
Mr Christopher Pinzone is charged with one count of for allegedly offering Mr Paul Pisasale (former Mayor of Ipswich City Council) certain benefits in return for the promotion of a property development proposal. The above proceeding relates to a pre-trial application for a permanent stay of the indictment brought by Mr Pinzone.
The permanent stay of the proceedings was sought (and dismissed) for the following reasons:
On 24 March 2023, the Councillor Conduct Tribunal (CCT) released its decision and reasons relating to Councillor Bob Manning of Cairns Regional Council and allegations of misconduct, with 23 of the 24 allegations being sustained.
The allegations varied, but largely related to allegations of breach of trust and failure to act consistently with the local government principles in section 4 (2)(a) of the Local Government Act 2009 (Qld), and various conflicts of interest, all of which arose in the 2012 to 2016 period.
The CCT ultimately found that the Councillor engaged in misconduct pursuant to section 150AR of the Local Government Act 2009 (Qld) and ordered that, within 60 days of the Order:
Mr Alexander Pinnock, also running under the pseudonyms ‘Alec Stuart’ and ‘Alec Anton Stuart’, is currently under investigation by the Queensland Law Society after being charged in New South Wales for allegedly misrepresenting himself as a qualified legal practitioner, and for engaging in legal practice without the required qualifications.
The Legal Profession Act 2007 (Cth) provides:
“A person must not engage in legal practice in this jurisdiction unless the person is an Australian legal practitioner. Maximum penalty – 300 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment.”
Mr Pinnock allegedly made several representations and publicly advertised himself, under various names, as a qualified legal practitioner in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria as well as the American Bar Association. It is alleged Mr Pinnock was never admitted or qualified as a legal practitioner in any state of Australia or the United States. Although Mr Pinnock appears to have no legal qualifications, he allegedly appeared at the Coffs Harbour Local Court as a ‘Partner’ at ‘Sydney Lawyers’.
At Gadens, we have extensive experience assisting clients in responding to both CCC and OIA investigations and hearings.
Please don’t hesitate to contact Daniel Maroske, Director or Angela Szczepanski, Director should you require any assistance in corruption or integrity matters or if you would like to arrange a presentation on investigations and hearings with your organisation.
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Daniel Maroske, Director
Angela Szczepanski, Director
 Legal Profession Act 2004 No 112 (NSW) ss 14, 15.
 Section 24.