Fitzgerald hits out at abuse of public trust by pollies
MAJOR political parties frequently produced leaders who were unwilling to understand and accept that they hold power on trust for the public, according to eminent jurist Tony Fitzgerald.
Mr Fitzgerald ran the inquiry into political and police corruption in the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era. His recommendations led to the establishment of the Criminal Justice Commission.
He has been drawn back into the political debate after being asked to make a submission to a parliamentary committee on changes the Gov-ernment plans for the state's top crime and corruption fighting body.
The changes would end bipartisan approval of the CMC chair and other senior appointments. The only power of veto would be held by a committee dominated by the government.
"It's unfortunate that the major political parties so frequently produce leaders who are unable to understand and unwilling to accept that they hold power on trust for the public, that there are ethical limits on the exercise of power, and that deceit, now called 'spin', corruption and the misuse of power betray public trust and erode public confidence in our institutions," Mr Fitzgerald said.
"Because current political behaviour and propaganda are eerily reminiscent of an earlier era in which corrupt politicians and crooked police ran Queensland, I've made it clear that I consider that the state is again under the control of a government which is led by politicians who are at best ignorant of the standards of good governance.
"There's no point in me adding to what I've said. Voters will make their decision in due course."
Professor Clive Bean, a lecturer in politics at QUT, said Mr Fitzgerald's criticism from a position of neutrality would be reinforced by partisan views.
But he was less certain about the electoral impact on a government with a huge majority.
"Clearly there has been commentary expressing concerns about the way the government, and particularly the Attorney-General, are conducting themselves," he said.
Prof Bean said while the way the government was taking the fight to the courts and legal figures as well as the medical profession had been criticised, there would be as many people saying "good on government" for not being coerced by such powerful groups as those institutions.
"Its popularity is sagging but with its huge majority it's hard to see it being defeated. But even to have cut a large amount of that majority would be tantamount to a loss."
Prof Bean said the forensic examination of political fundraising now underway at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption may start biting in Queensland.
Bronwyn Stevens, lecturer in politics at the University of the Sunshine Coast, said the shock and horror of what was being revealed at the NSW ICAC hearings into political corruption may be repeated here.
Ms Stevens said she was disappointed that Premier Campbell Newman did not understand what went on in the pre-Fitzgerald era.
"It's important a bipartisan approach is taken to an ICAC-type commission," she said.
"I think with the history of Queensland all should be very concerned about the use of the police and the public service as arms of government. It's time for voters to be concerned."