“At the time I write, legislation has been introduced to merge the CJC and the Queensland Crime Commission... This will give a renewed emphasis to the investigation of organised crime and paedophilia in Queensland. Importantly, it will also give legislative backing to working cooperatively with agencies to build their capacity to prevent and deal with misconduct.”
---Chairperson Brendan Butler SC.
As dominating as the Shepherdson Inquiry was for the CJC during 2000-2001 (see below), the CJC achieved a number of other significant outcomes during that financial year. It published major reports in the areas of minimising sexual misconduct towards school students by Education Queensland employees, police misuse of confidential information, and integrity standards in the Queensland Police Service (QPS).
Other CJC achievements in 2000-2001 included:
- Receiving 3,148 complaints containing 5,498 allegations.
- Completing 347 investigations.
- Completing 459 reviews of investigations conducted by other agencies.
- Completing 190 police service reviews.
- Delivering 36 corruption prevention presentations and workshops.
- Conducting 83 threat assessments.
- Producing 13 publications.
- Conducting one major public hearing (Shepherdson Inquiry) and six closed hearings.
- Commencing a trial of a different way of handling minor complaints against police (Project Resolve)
- Commencing a joint operation with the QPS (Project Trafalgar) to combat the use of illegal steroids by police.
- Publishing a review of corruption risks in Queensland prison industries, and conducting a trial of free telephone access to the CJC for prisoners.
- Producing two major reports — one into the funding of the Office of the Director Public Prosecutions and Legal Aid Queensland, and the other into the impact of information technology on policing.
- Establishing a new database (COMPASS) which substantially enhanced the CJC’s ability to identify police officers who have had a large number of excessive-force complaints made against them.
“While everyone is aware of the CJC’s role in detecting serious misconduct by police officers and public servants, it is sometimes overlooked that the CJC’s jurisdiction also extends to the conduct of our elected representatives. The Shepherdson Inquiry was undertaken with sensitivity and impartiality in a highly charged political environment.”
---Chairperson Brendan Butler SC.
Allegations of electoral fraud: the Shepherdson Inquiry
In 2000-2001, the CJC’s biggest commitment was the Shepherdson Inquiry, where it commenced an investigation into allegations of electoral fraud.
In August 2000, Karen Ehrmann, a member of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), claimed ALP members were carrying out electoral fraud in internal party ballots in Queensland. Her claims were taken seriously because she had just pleaded guilty to 47 charges relating to the forgery and uttering of electoral enrolment forms, and her conviction followed those of fellow ALP members Andrew Kehoe and Shane Foster for similar conduct.
The activities of these three people were regarded as very serious because they involved tampering with the Australian Electoral Roll, a public document on which the community is entitled to rely. Their activities also gave cause for concern that more than just the conduct of internal party plebiscites or pre-selections was at stake. The integrity of public elections was at risk.
The Inquiry established that the practice of making consensual false enrolments to bolster the chances of specific candidates in pre-selections was regarded by some ALP members as a legitimate campaign tactic. No evidence, however, was revealed indicating that the tactic had been generally used to influence the outcome of public elections. Where it was found to have been used in public elections, the practice appeared to be opportunistic rather than systemic or widespread.
The Inquiry recommended that the evidence implicating Anthony Mooney (one of the candidates in the 1996 Townsville plebiscite) was sufficient for the CJC to refer the matter to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to consider whether to bring forgery charges. Accordingly, the CJC delivered briefs of evidence to the respective DPPs. The Commonwealth DPP decided not to charge Mooney, but the Inquiry set in motion a range of reform activities to reduce the likelihood of similar questionable or fraudulent practices occurring in the future.
The CJC held 31 days of hearings during the Shepherdson Inquiry, all but one of these days were open to the public. 84 persons were called and gave evidence at the public hearings which concluded on 19 January 2001.
Jail time for corrupt Queensland Transport officer
In February 1999, Queensland Transport received information that members of an outlaw motorcycle gang were obtaining false licences from a corrupt Queensland Transport officer for a fee of $2,000. The CJC noted that the corrupt activity was very similar to that disclosed during a previous CJC investigation, Operation Aramac, in 1994.
Following receipt of the information, the CJC commenced Operation Aubrey, which used specialist covert strategies to expose the corrupt official responsible. The investigation resulted in the identification of 57 false learners’ permits and 20 false motor vehicle registrations.
On 30 April 2001, the Queensland Transport officer was sentenced to three years’ jail with the sentence suspended after six months. A pecuniary penalty order in the sum of $30,000 was also made and briefs of evidence were sent to the DPP in relation to 11 other people.
To find out more, read the Annual Report 2000-01.