In a massive blow to the Crime and Corruption Commission’s credibility, its own parliamentary oversight committee found it breached its duty and overstepped its powers in slapping eight Logan councillors with fraud charges that were later dropped.
The Local Government Association of Queensland has called on CCC chair Alan MacSporran to stand down as a means of restoring confidence in the commission.
However, the CCC has issued a statement saying Mr MacSporran would continue to lead the organisation.
The statement said the body “looks forward to an ongoing and productive relationship” with the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee as it “continues to independently combat major crime and reduce corruption for the benefit of the Queensland community”.
LGAQ president and Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson insisted the former Logan councillors, whose careers were cut short by the CCC’s actions, deserved a public apology and compensation.
On Friday, the LGAQ went further, with its policy executive made up of mayors and senior council leaders throughout the state passing a motion of no confidence in MacSporran.
The bipartisan parliamentary committee found that the CCC had breached its proper duty in pursuing the councillors.
In a scathing assessment of the body’s conduct, the committee found that Mr 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”.
Mayor Jamieson said the only way for the CCC to move forward and win back public confidence was with the exit of Mr MacSporran and swift action by the Palaszczuk Government to reform the body.
He said the CCC’s behaviour in the Logan matter were a “serious blight” on its integrity and that ”change must start now and at the top”.
“For the CCC to issue a statement yesterday in defiance of these findings is offensive and concerning. It puts the future of this critical watchdog in jeopardy when the Chair should at all times be acting to protect its legacy.
“Swift action must also be taken by the State Government to overhaul the structure and senior ranks of the corruption watchdog to restore its reputation and ensure this never happens again.”
Secretary of the powerful CFMEU union Michael Ravbar also called on MacSporran to resign, saying the commission under his chairmanship had “totally lost its way”.
“As the committee report so starkly highlights, fiascos such as the botched Logan Council fraud case – along with a string of other debacles – demonstrate that the CCC is operating well beyond its brief, and without fairness or impartiality,” he said.
Ravbar said he supported the committee recommendation the government order a royal commission into the commission.
“A commission of inquiry or similar, to be headed by senior counsel of sufficient standing to consider this structural basis of the CCC,” the report said.
The report followed the committee’s 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.
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.”
Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said there were many concerning aspects of the commission probe.
She said MacSporran’s future in the role was up to the parliament and not the government.
“It’s a matter for the committee and ultimately, the parliament,” she said.
-with AAPJump to next article