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Breach of duty: Corruption watchdog lashed in scathing parliamentary review

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Queensland’s corruption watchdog overstepped its powers and breached its duty to be impartial in its handling of the fraud investigation of Logan City Council, a parliamentary inquiry has found.

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It has called for a royal commission to inquire into the structure and powers of the Crime and Corruption Commission.

In a scathing assessment of the Crime and Corruption’s conduct, the bipartisan parliamentary committee found that CCC chair Alan MacSporran failed to ensure the commission acted impartially and independently.

While it stopped short of recommending MacSporran be sacked, it said his failure was “serious and reflects poorly on the Crime and Corruption Commission”.

The Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee report followed its inquiry into the laying of fraud charges against eight Logan City councillors in 2019 over the dismissal of the council’s former chief executive, Sharon Kelsey.

The charges, which cut short the careers of the councillors and eventually led to the entire council being sacked, were dropped later by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Committee chair, LNP MP Jon Krause, said “serious findings” had been made about the CCC’s conduct, saying the commission had “failed in the role entrusted to it by this parliament on behalf of all Queenslanders”.

The committee inquiry followed complaints by the Local Government Association of Queensland that the CCC had not acted impartially in its probe of the Logan council and had interfered in an industrial relations commission case involving Ms Kelsey’s dismissal.

It found that the CCC improperly interfered in Kelsey’s unfair dismissal claim before the QIRC, including making documents it had seized from the council available to her lawyers.

“The committee notes that an inference could be drawn that this was don for the purpose of Ms Kelsey’s reinstatement as CEO,” Mr Krause told parliament.

He said the committee found that the CCC’s decision to charge the Logan councillors with fraud was affected by a desire to assist Ms Kelsey” and blamed the commission for the charges being “miscarried”.

“It probably doesn’t ned to be pointed out that the decision to charge is what caused the majority of councillors to b removed from office, the Logan City Council to be dissolved and an administrator appointed,” he said.

Krause indicate to parliament that he had been pressured to go easy on the CCC in the committee’s inquiry.

“During the course of this inquiry a number of people on various different occasions have cautioned me about pushing too hard inquiring into the CCC,” he said.

It was put across that this could have consequences. The fact that these matters were even raised with me in the consciousness of the people interested in these ,matters and they would say those things to me are highly concerning.”

“It speaks to the perception of how the CCC goes about its business.”

“Some of the problems identified in this report can be addressed through legislative changes, but others require a change of approach from within the CCC,” Krause wrote in the tabled report.

“That is why the committee has made recommendations that speak to the need for the CCC to engage in cultural change.”

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