Watchdog’s verdict on hospital name poll
QUEENSLAND'S corruption watchdog has recommended an overhaul of state-run online opinion polls in the wake of the contentious Lady Cilento Children's Hospital name change.
The Crime and Corruption Commission today announced it had decided against a full corruption investigation into the poll, amid LNP allegations it was rigged by the Government to find in favour of removing Lady Phyllis Cilento's name.
The CCC decided against a full investigation as it believed it was unlikely evidence to substantiate allegations of corrupt conduct or any criminal offence would be obtained.
It has instead asked the Department of Housing and Public Works to investigate and to overhaul its online poll software.
"The lack of transparency and inability to robustly audit the results of a voting website in the CCC's view limits the integrity of a process to engage meaningfully with Queenslanders on matters of public interest," the CCC said in a statement.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington referred the poll to the CCC in November last year after documents released under Right to Information revealed almost 18,000 "yes" votes were linked to 74 IP addresses.
About 38,000 votes were cast. More than 10,000 no votes were linked to about 24 IP addresses.
The watchdog said it had requested a full, unredacted list of IP addresses from the department as part of its initial assessment as well as a reconstructed version of the voting webpage.
"A number of servers were identified as being used by various Queensland government entities including Ministerial Services and Queensland Health (QH)," it found.
"The CCC subsequently requested data from the Department of Premier and Cabinet and Queensland Health to identify IP addresses of Ministerial Services staff and QH staff who accessed the voting website and who voted.
"After an analysis of the data, the CCC discovered that on the information it had obtained, distinguishing between an IP address that had simply accessed the voting website and an IP address that had proceeded with a vote was problematic.
"Every time the voting website refreshed it recorded a 'hit' against an IP address but this did not automatically equate to an actual vote.
The CCC interviewed two public servants who had "a large amount of hits to the voting website".
"Both denied being given a direction to vote in a particular way," the watchdog's statement read.
"One person denied voting at all and the other voted only once. Both indicated they had accessed the website numerous times as part of their roles.
"This reinforced the problem of distinguishing between 'hits' from the voting website recorded against an IP address and actual votes recorded against an IP address."
The CCC identified a large number of IP addresses were from interstate or overseas.
"Inquiries with Queensland's Chief Information Officer established that no government department was linked to the overseas or interstate server providers," it found.
"The CCC considered engaging a specialist to further analyse the data, including analysing individual server logs of IP addresses that accessed the voting website. However, the cost was prohibitive and it was unlikely to result in obtaining evidence that would establish corrupt conduct or criminal conduct."
The watchdog has recommended the Government ensure future online polls outline that only one vote per person is allowed and that only those within Queensland are eligible to vote.
It called for software restrictions to prevent multiple votes as well as votes from those outside Queensland.
The CCC recommended that future polls "be capable of being audited to exclude multiple voting by participants to ensure transparency".
"These recommendations will strengthen any public voting system and deliver results that can withstand public scrutiny," it's statement read.
The Hospital was officially renamed in November last year with the lettering taken down in December.
It has been renamed the Queensland Children's Hospital.
Health Minister Steven Miles urged the Opposition to "move on" from its criticisms of the poll following the CCC's decision not to launch a corruption investigation into it.
"I welcome the statement from the CCC today confirming they will not investigate the Queensland Children's Hospital poll as there is no evidence to support any corrupt conduct regarding the poll, as alleged by the Leader of the Opposition," Mr Miles said.
"Now that these matters have been assessed fully by the state's corruption watchdog, at the Opposition's request, I urge them to move on for the sake of the staff at the hospital and their patients."