“No single organisation can possibly hope to be the sole guardian of public sector integrity. It is for this reason that the CMC is committed to doing everything in its power to help public sector agencies take greater responsibility for detecting, dealing with and preventing the wrongdoing of their own officers.”
--Chairperson Robert Needham
In his first annual report as CMC Chairperson, Robert Needham stated the CMC’s ultimate goal was to achieve an integrated system where all Queensland government agencies regarded misconduct prevention and detection as “core business”.
In 2004-05, the CMC recorded a 60 per cent increase in the number of complaints received when compared to the CMC’s first year of operation in 2001-02. Many of the complaints were misconduct and as such were referred to public sector agencies to deal with. It is for this reason that the CMC was committed to doing everything in its power to help public sector agencies take greater responsibility for detecting, dealing with and preventing the wrongdoing of their own officers.
Some of the key highlights from the CMC’s work in 2004-05 included:
• 137 people being charged with 891 offences resulting from major crime investigations
• Conducting 109 misconduct investigations, and recommending 185 charges
• Conducting 16 paedophilia investigations resulting in the charging of 20 people on 435 offences
• Assessing 4363 complaints of official misconduct
• Holding 35 days of investigative hearings with 37 witnesses called to give evidence
• Restraining $8.08 million in assets through civil confiscation legislation and finalising 15 matters which led to the forfeiture of $1.623 million to the State
• Evaluating the Queensland Prostitution Act and the live adult entertainment industry. The CMC tabled two reports in Parliament in December 2004 following these reviews. The reviews established that Queensland had a safe and effective legal brothel industry, better regulated than in any other state in Australia.
Alleged police misconduct – death in custody and riot on Palm Island
In November 2004, the CMC investigated the circumstances surrounding the death in police custody of Palm Island resident Mulrunji Doomadgee, and sent the information it obtained to the State Coroner.
The CMC also investigated complaints arising from the riot that occurred on Palm Island in the immediate aftermath of Mr Doomadgee’s death. These complaints alleged misconduct by police who entered and searched some Palm Island homes in order to locate and arrest those people who may have incited or participated in the riot.
Most of the complaints were resolved by early 2005 through mediation. However, four required further investigation and were finalised in July 2005. The investigations focused on the appropriate exercise of police powers to enter and search, allegations of excessive force during the arrests, and the handcuffing of people who were not suspects. The investigation did not find sufficient evidence to establish official misconduct on the part of any police officer. However, it did result in recommendations for police training in relation to the provisions of the Public Safety Preservation Act 1986 and a number of other recommendations to improve police procedures relating to such incidents.
Alleged rorting: Investigation into Speaker’s expenses
In February 2005, the Clerk of the Queensland Parliament referred an internal audit report to the CMC for investigation. This report raised the possibility that the then Speaker, Mr Ray Hollis, may have behaved inappropriately in relation to certain travel and hospitality expenditure.
After investigating the matter, the CMC referred it to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to determine whether criminal charges should be laid. The Speaker stood down from his position. The decision of the DPP was that there was no reasonable prospect of a conviction, and Mr Hollis was reinstated as Speaker. However, a short time later (in July 2005) he resigned.
The CMC carried out organisational system reviews, including a review of draft revised Guidelines for the Financial Management of the Speaker’s Office.
The allegations, and the subsequent investigation, raised questions about the adequacy of the existing guidelines for the financial management of the Office of the Speaker, and the degree of compliance with them.
On 1 June 2005, the CMC published a report titled Review of the Financial Management Guidelines for the Office of the Speaker, which made 28 recommendations for improvement.
Police radio communications
Following the QPS’s decision in early 2004 to begin a roll-out of digital radio technology, the CMC was asked by the Premier to determine what level of access, if any, the media should have to police radio communications.
The ensuing public inquiry was held over four days in July 2004 and required the Commission to consider the issues of freedom of the press and the media’s role in a democratic state, within the context of modern policing. The public hearings enabled the Commission to explore options with people who were closely associated with the issues or were representatives of organisations identified by the CMC as having a particular interest or expertise.
In December 2004, the CMC tabled in Parliament its report of the inquiry. The report was titled Striking a balance: an inquiry into media access to police radio communications. The Commission made 14 recommendations to ensure efficient, transparent and technically feasible information-sharing practices between the police service and the media in Queensland, while simultaneously protecting the privacy of individuals and ensuring confidentiality.
Achievements in the fight against paedophilia
In November 2004, the CMC’s paedophile investigation unit, the Egret Team, won the QPS State Gold Award for Excellence in Policing Operations for its development and use of pioneering computer software, Chat-Trak.
The software pinpointed the precise geographic location of suspected paedophiles using the Internet.
To find out more, read the CMC Annual Report 2004-05.