Where the CCC has been approved to undertake a major crime investigation or specific intelligence operation, it may also be approved to undertake hearings and use its power to compel the attendance of witnesses and require them to answer questions and/or produce documents.
All witnesses at coercive hearings have the right to legal representation. However, a CCC hearing is different from a police interview because:
A witness must answer the questions put to them — the right to silence does not apply and the privilege against self-incrimination does not provide a basis for refusal to answer.
It is an offence to lie at a CCC hearing — an untruthful witness may be liable to prosecution for perjury.
While a CCC hearing may involve a witness giving evidence in a similar way to a court, the hearing is not a court and the purpose of the hearing is not to make findings but to enquire into the truth of the matter under investigation.
If a witness gives evidence during a hearing that does incriminate them in a criminal offence, it cannot be included in any brief of evidence against them in any criminal, civil or administrative proceedings. It can however be used to assist the investigation and as the basis for requiring the witness to later give evidence in a court against another person.
The CCC’s coercive hearings power is most often sought by Queensland police for unsolved murders, the abuse of children and organised crime investigations involving drug trafficking, money laundering, or crimes involving the use of weapons.
Accountability and conduct of coercive hearings
The use of the CCC’s hearings power is overseen by the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee (PCCC) and the Parliamentary Commissioner by monitoring or auditing how the Commission performs its functions and exercises its powers, and dealing with complaints against the CCC . The CRC also has a key role in considering, monitoring and, if applicable, limiting the use of powers or stopping the CCC’s involvement in an investigation. Certain decisions that relate to the conduct of hearings may be appealed to, or judicially reviewed in, the Supreme Court.
Location of hearings
The CCC holds hearings across Queensland.