Queensland corruption whistle blowers win back anonymity
COMPLAINTS about possible public corruption can now be made anonymously following changes to the Crime and Corruption Act 2014, a Labor commitment ahead of the 2015 Queensland election.
The changes contained in the Crime and Corruption Amendment Act 2016 mean whistle blowers will no longer be required to complete a statutory declaration when laying a complaint with the Crime and Corruption Commission.
The Local Government Association of Queensland is unhappy with the decision, CEO Greg Hallam declaring today the changes would do more harm than good.
"The system has been abused and will continue to be abused,'' Mr Hallam said.
"The LGAQ supports the CCC and proper process but people abuse it. This will cause more harm than good and there is no doubt about that.
"This cuts across the political divide in the LGAQ. No-one would deny there are genuine whistle blowers but there is a culture of complaint."
The amendment to allow anonymous complaints to the CCC was among a raft of eight changes to the Crime and Corruption Act which came into force on May 5.
Under legislation introduced by the Newman Government in 2014 complaints could only be anonymous in exception circumstances.
The rationale for the 2014 amendment was to reduce frivolous and vexatious complaints.
The rationale for a return to the status quo that existing prior to 2014 is that it will foster a culture that encourages complaints about corruption.
The 2014 amendments meant Queensland was the only Australian jurisdiction requiring complaints to anti-corruption bodies to be made by statutory declaration.
Professor Charles Sampford, the Director of Ethics, Governance and Law at Griffith University, told a public hearing of a parliamentary committee inquiry into the changes confidentiality increased the chance corrupt conduct would be caught and reduced the chance of mischief such as evidence being destroyed.
"The other thing, as I said, is that if the person who is accused possibly is corrupt the last thing you want to do is alert them to it,'' Prof Sampford told the inquiry.
"This also comes back to the first point. Somebody who makes a public allegation like that has an incentive to besmirch his or her opponents. Also, if he is genuine about wanting to find corruption, in that case he should not be doing it publicly".