“This year public sector integrity has taken centre stage in the media and the general community. We have found ourselves in an environment where the words ‘transparency’, ‘accountability’ and ‘integrity’ have become increasingly commonplace.”
---Chairperson Robert Needham
In May 2009, the Commonwealth and Queensland governments enacted important legislation which enabled the CMC to undertake lawful interception of telecommunications in the context of investigating criminal and misconduct offences.
Additional accountability obligations particular to Queensland were put in place for the new power, including roles for the Public Interest Monitor and the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Commissioner.
Support and advice from state agencies including the QPS, the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, and other sources including the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Telecommunications and Surveillance Law Branch, the Australian Crime Commission and the Office of Police Integrity, Victoria, enabled the CMC to establish its new capability in line with best practice.
During 2008-09, a multidisciplinary team undertook the initial preparation work for implementing the capability in 2009-10. This included consulting on legislative provisions, negotiating with government and telecommunications industry representatives, and installing infrastructure.
Having that legislation enacted was considered a significant gain because until that time, Queensland was the only jurisdiction in Australia without these specific powers.
Other highlights for the CMC in 2008-09 included:
- Receiving 3,873 complaints
- Finalising 80 misconduct investigations concerning allegations of serious instances of corruption, misappropriation, and police and drugs
- Dismantling three separate organised criminal groups in Queensland with links to outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMCG) from Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. A multi-agency operation involving resources from the CMC, QPS and the Australian Crime Commission was successful in achieving this result
- Restraining property valued at $24.374 million, forfeiting property valued at $3.304 million and obtaining two proceeds assessment orders totalling $1.7 million
- Uploading 144 reports, such as information/intelligence reports, offender profiles and post-operational assessments to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Database.
Legislative amendments and implementation of CMC recommendations
In 2008-09, the Right to Information Act 2009 replaced the Freedom of Information Act 1992, and the new Act required that all public sector agencies and statutory authorities, including the CMC, had to regularly release information online rather than wait for requests from the public.
Following a Supreme Court decision in March 2009 that questioned the validity of a CMC investigation undertaken pursuant to a general referral, the Crime and Misconduct Act 2001 was also amended in May 2009 to make it clear that particular incidents of major crime could be investigated under a general referral, and to validate all past investigations that had been conducted in this manner.
In August 2008, the Queensland Government announced its intention to implement the recommendations of the CMC report Policing public order: a review of the public nuisance offence. A new stand-alone offence of public urination commenced in 2009, and a 12-month trial of on-the-spot fines for public nuisance offences commenced in Townsville and South Brisbane on 1 January 2009.
The CMC released a public report entitled Public duty, private interests in December 2008. The report highlighted the need for better controls over the use of information or influence by public servants representing private interests. It also addressed issues of pre-separation conduct and post-separation employment in relation to senior executives. Arising out of the report’s recommendations, the Queensland Government introduced a new Criminal Code offence of misconduct in public office, a Queensland Contact with Lobbyists Code to deliver greater accountability standards for former ministers, parliamentary secretaries, ministerial staff and senior public servants and a requirement for all lobbyists to register their details with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.
Public servants and a contractor sentenced for fraud
Two former Department of Public Works officers were sentenced in March 2009 in the Brisbane District Court for approving false invoices worth more than $200,000 for painting work not performed.
Robin Brown pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud, and Bradley Goodwin pleaded guilty to charges of official corruption and fraud. A third man, Christopher Creedy of Brisbane and West Painting Pty Ltd, also pleaded guilty to charges of official corruption and fraud. Goodwin and Creedy each received a four-year jail sentence to be suspended after one year, and Brown was given a three-year wholly suspended sentence due to the lesser role he played in the scheme. The contractor, Creedy, was ordered to pay restitution of $210,061.
Queensland Transport employee issues false 18+ cards and drivers licences
During the execution of a search warrant in October 2003, police discovered an 18+ card which was identified as being a fake. A number of persons receiving false documentation were also identified using the CMC’s coercive powers. During 2008–09, Anne-Marie Corrigan pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and received a 12-month intensive correctional order and had a conviction recorded.
Terrence Goodman Benfer was charged and convicted of one count of fraud, and Glen David Cannard was charged and convicted on one count of fraud and one count of forgery.
Misconduct investigations of the QPS: Former police officers jailed over Loganholme watch-house incident
In November 2008, former Senior Constable Craig Stuart Ablitt was sentenced to 15 months jail, suspended after five months, for his part in the assault of a 25-year-old woman in a holding cell at the Loganholme Police Station in April 2004. He pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to assault occasioning bodily harm.
His fellow officer, former police constable Justin Anthony Burkett, was jailed in August 2007 for three years, suspended after nine months, after pleading guilty to one count of assault causing bodily harm, four perjury charges and two charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
For more information on the CMC during 2008-09, read the annual report.