“People sometimes ask whether it is appropriate for government agencies, especially the QPS, to investigate themselves. The answer is that all government agencies, including the QPS, should take responsibility for the conduct of their own officers. Our role is to ensure that they do so to the required standard.”
--Chairperson Robert Needham
Between October and December 2005, the CMC held public hearings into allegations about the relationship between certain candidates in the Gold Coast City Council election of 2004 and a number of Gold Coast developers. More information on this important public hearing is outlined in the case study below.
At 30 June 2006, the CMC had a staff establishment of 299 positions and a budget of $35 million.
In 2005-06, the CMC charged 49 people with 316 offences resulting from major crime investigations. This included 16 people being charged with 85 offences after 15 paedophilia investigations.
The witness protection program run by the CMC protected 136 people after 70 successful operations. The CMC also held the second Queensland Witness Protection Course in April and May 2006. A range of other training sessions for the Queensland Police Service (QPS) were held throughout 2005-06.
Some of the other highlights in 2005-06 included:
- The receipt of 3,924 complaints of official misconduct compared with 4,363 in 2004-05. Approximately 50% of all allegations received related to the QPS
- 158 reviews into matters dealt with by public sector agencies with the vast majority found to have been dealt with appropriately
- 8 joint crime investigations commencing with the QPS and other law enforcement agencies
- Obtaining 28 restraining orders and restrained assets worth almost $11 million. $2 million was forfeited to the State of Queensland
- Finalising 110 misconduct investigations
- 104 days of hearings relating to major crime.
Allegations in relation to Gold Coast City Council
Between October and December 2005, over 50 witnesses were called and more than 300 exhibits were tendered. The witnesses called included developers, councillors, council officers, unsuccessful candidates, members of various campaign committees and others involved in the administration of election campaign funds. A further public sitting was held in February 2006.
The CMC’s report Independence, influence and integrity in local government, published in May 2006, disclosed that the electoral process had been corrupted, and made recommendations for prosecution proceedings against six people.
The CMC found some candidates were presented, during the election, as totally independent candidates funding their own campaigns. In fact, they had received funding through the initiative of two sitting councillors, and the funding came exclusively from parties with development interests. If elected, the candidates would be, consciously or unconsciously, beholden to the two councillors for that funding during their four-year terms.
The CMC considered that the conduct outlined in its report was not ‘trivial’ or ‘technical’, as suggested by some submissions, but in fact adversely affected the integrity of the 2004 Gold Coast City Council election. For this reason, it made the 19 recommendations for electoral reform including:
- establishing new disclosure provisions
- requiring local governments to minute any declaration made by a councillor that they had a conflict of interest
- requiring local governments to provide reasons for all decisions made contrary to a council officer’s recommendation and
- that there be a review of the adequacy of the penalties for offences relating to the failure to disclose gifts received.
Of the 19 recommendations, the then Government accepted 17 in full or with amendment. In August 2016, the then Government rejected the following recommendations:
- that the Local Government Act be amended so that local government candidates/councillors endorsed by a registered political party are subject to the same disclosure requirements as apply to other candidates. The State Government responded that the “Electoral Act and LGA already provide for appropriate disclosure of election gifts by parties and candidates for election”.
- that the Local Government Act be amended to allow councillors and candidates to accept gifts only from individuals, incorporated associations and companies. The State Government responded that “The Government does not accept that unincorporated associations, including community groups, should be prevented from making donations”.
Police officer jailed for extortion
In early 2006, the CMC received a complaint from a solicitor that his client, a Mareeba man, had advised him that a Detective Senior Constable was attempting to extort $8,000 from him. The CMC immediately sent investigators to the area and arrangements were made for the victim of the attempted extortion to meet with the police officer to hand over the money demanded.
The meeting was covertly monitored and recorded, and the police officer was later detained and charged. The police officer pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three and a half years' imprisonment.
Strategic Intelligence assessments
During 2005–06, the CMC’s Strategic Intelligence Unit completed an assessment of the organised stolen property crime market in Queensland. This revealed that, although most property offenders were opportunistic, a few were becoming more skilled in planning, preparing and executing property offences. The assessment found a very strong link, consistent with similar studies elsewhere, between the property crime market and illicit drug markets.
There was little evidence to suggest that traditionally recognised organised crime groups were controlling the stolen property market. It appeared instead that most organised or networked property crime offenders operate independently.
For more information on the CMC’s work in 2005-06, read the annual report.