The Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) has recommended the government consider making it an offence for any person to publicise allegations of corrupt conduct against a councillor or candidate during a local government election period, without first notifying the CCC and allowing at least three months to determine whether the allegations have merit.
The recommendation is contained in the CCC’s report Publicising allegations of corrupt conduct: Is it in the public interest? which was tabled in State Parliament this morning.
In June 2016, the CCC issued a discussion paper and invited public submissions to examine whether it is in the public interest to publicise allegations of corrupt conduct, and if it is not, what legislative or other options are available to prevent this.
It was important to the CCC to conduct the examination of this issue transparently and provide opportunity for interested stakeholders to provide their views.
The CCC received 82 submissions and conducted a two-day public forum in October where 22 people provided their views on the issue. The CCC also reviewed the legislative frameworks of other jurisdictions, a range of legislation linked to this issue including the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 and analysed its own data during its examination.
CCC Chairperson Alan MacSporran QC said there were competing views from a cross-section of the community and the four-person panel examining this matter carefully considered all the viewpoints.
“Whilst we acknowledge the very important right to the freedom of speech and the need for open and accountable government, based on all the material examined by the CCC we are of the view limiting the publicising of allegations during local government election periods will allow this agency to complete its statutory functions, especially investigating corrupt conduct, in a more robust manner,” Mr MacSporran said.
“Consideration was given to all options including not changing the current framework through to a total prohibition similar to other jurisdictions. However, based on the evidence and material considered, the CCC did not determine there was justification for any change except in the local government election context.”
The recommendation does not apply to allegations about Members of Parliament, the Queensland Police Service, public servants, other holders of public office or local government councillors outside an election period.
The Parliament will now consider the CCC’s recommendation.
Mr MacSporran will address the media at a press conference at CCC Headquarters today at 12.30pm to discuss the recommendation.
Press conference details:
Where: CCC HQ – Level 2, 515 St Pauls Terrace Fortitude Valley
When: 12.30pm - 12/12/16. Media are asked to arrive earlier to allow sufficient time for sign-in procedures.
Who: Alan MacSporran QC, CCC Chairperson