Proposed changes to Queensland’s corruption watchdog could come back to bite the Newman government, its former boss warns.
Under sweeping reforms, the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) will no longer investigate minor misconduct allegations and bipartisan support will no longer be needed to appoint the chair, chief executive officer and other commissioners.
Former CMC chair Ross Martin will front a public hearing on the planned changes on Wednesday and has questioned the removal of bipartisan support for appointments.
“If there is suspicion that a body like the CMC is not as independent of the executive as human ingenuity can make it, cynicism about its willingness to expose the corrupt in the first place will fester, to the calamitous detriment of its mission,” Mr Martin said in a written submission.
“All governments are prey to it (corruption), and it seems that if any government is in power for long enough there will be a corruption scandal.
“When that happens, a government that is seen to have acted to reduce the effectiveness of the CMC will necessarily carry a greater burden of disapproval than otherwise.”
Five former part-time commissioners Julie Cork, David Gow, Ann Gummow, Judith Bell and Philip Nase also criticised the changes in a joint submission.
“We believe the proposed bill will undermine the effectiveness and independence of the CMC and for that reason it should be withdrawn in its present form,” their statement said.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie says changes will lead to a new era for the organisation, which was set up after the landmark Fitzgerald Inquiry into police corruption.
He argues it has been hamstrung by its own governance structure and the high number of malicious, baseless or minor complaints.