The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) has welcomed a call from the Clerk of the Queensland Parliament for the role and responsibilities of the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) to be clarified.
LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam urged the CCC’s parliamentary watchdog, the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee (PCCC), to take on board the points raised by Clerk of the Parliament Neil Laurie in his submission to its review of CCC activities, including whether it should be investigator, reporter and prosecutor.
“Generally there is separation between investigators and prosecutors. There are sound reasons for this separation. This separation is particularly important for the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, which refers to when a prosecutor has the power to decide whether or not to charge a person for a crime (despite there being a prima facie case), and which criminal charges to file or discontinue. It is also important when there are serious and complex charges which may be issued in a matter.”
Mr Laurie’s submission also raises concerns about the current diversity of the CCC and whether it reflects the original vision of the Fitzgerald Inquiry, among other issues.
Mr Hallam said the LGAQ had repeatedly raised concerns about the CCC’s role and the need for separation between its investigations and any decision to lay charges following an investigation.
“There must be a separation between investigators and prosecutors to ensure the decision over whether to charge a person over evidence gleaned by the CCC is made independently and with complete objectivity,” Mr Hallam said.
“You only have to look at the travesty of justice that took place against the seven former Logan councillors in the CCC’s now-failed fraud case against them to see why this separation is important.
“A duly elected council was sacked and the careers and reputations of seven former councillors destroyed over charges laid by the CCC that have now been found to have been baseless, with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) withdrawing them last month due to lack of evidence.
“It is clear from the DPP’s decision to withdraw those charges that they should never have been laid in the first place.
“We urge the PCCC to carefully consider this as part of its review.”
Mr Hallam said the LGAQ was also continuing in its calls for an independent inquiry into the CCC’s actions in the now failed case against the Logan councillors.
“It has been 27 days since the case against these councillors was dismissed and we issued our call for action to address the gross injustice,” he said.
“There must be an inquiry in the interests of transparency and accountability, to ensure this debacle can never be repeated.”