CMC REFORMS 'A STEP TOO FAR'

CMC REFORMS 'A STEP TOO FAR'

REFOCUSED and revitalised.

They were the words chosen by Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie when he put forward reforms to the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) earlier this year.

But according to Maurice Blackburn principal and Australian Lawyers Alliance Queensland president Michelle James, Bleijie needs to listen a lot harder.

James says the government has shown itself willing to disregard the importance of both the rule of law, and separation of powers, and to challenge the boundaries of democracy.

Fitzgerald, who presided over the Fitzgerald Inquiry into Queensland Police corruption in 1987-1989, notes Queensland as being “particularly vulnerable to political excess” with the government holding a significant parliamentary majority and the state lacking both constitutional protection for individual rights and a second house of parliament.

Neither Premier Campbell Newman nor Bleijie, he says, have the knowledge or experience of the complexities involved in balancing personal freedom and public safety through criminal justice.

The Callinan Aroney report, commissioned by the government in 2012 to improve efficiency within the CMC, presented a series of recommendations by former High Court Justice Ian Callinan AC and University of Queensland Professor Nicholas Aroney.

“The reforms have gone a lot further than what was recommended,” she says, noting several reforms make it less likely that corruption be reported and investigated.

“The lack of genuinely impartial senior staff, in an under-resourced commission, will also allow potential for matters other than resourcing to impact on decision making around investigations.”

“Any government of the day could staff the CMC with those sympathetic to its ends,” she explains.

Bleijie has responded publicly with an opinion piece in News Corp media that shows no change in his stance, despite the numerous submissions to the bill.

He notes neither the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption nor the Australian Crime Commission requires bipartisan support of appointments to the position of Commissioner or CEO respectively and says the CCC chairman will rightly be able to tell anyone who tries to influence the commission, including the Premier, to take a long walk off a short pier.

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