CMC warns of complacency on corruption

By Rob O’Brien

The biggest threat of corruption is through public sector complacency, the head of the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) has said.

In announcing its line-up for the Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption (APSAC) Conference, to be held in Brisbane in July, the CMC said that in the wake of corruption scandals in local government, standards had noticeably slipped.
“While I don’t believe systemic corruption exists in Queensland, during my four years as CMC Chairperson I have seen some ‘slippage’ in our public sector and police service,” CMC Chairperson Robert Needham said.

“Now more than ever we must fight complacency.”

The CMC was formed by the merging of the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) and the Queensland Crime Commission (QCC), which were set up in response to the 1987 Fitzgerald Inquiry into police corruption in Queensland’s police force.
Among its many scalps the inquiry claimed the jobs of the Police Commissioner Sir Terrence Lewis and former Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.
Needham said despite it being the 20th Anniversary since the Fitzgerald Inquiry handed down its findings, there was a real danger of its memory fading.
"Twenty years ago when Tony Fitzgerald handed down his recommendations, the need to fight corruption was fresh in the minds of most people around Australia," he said. 
“However, there is a very real risk that that memory has faded."
The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Commissioner, the Hon Jerrold Cripps QC, said public sector organisations needed to take responsibility for corruption in their own workplace and to fight complacency.
"Recent ICAC investigations in NSW, such as those involving RailCorp, have shown the depth of systemic corruption that can occur when complacency and a lack of responsibility in the public sector workplace are allowed to flourish," Cripps said.
The APSAC conference will feature anti-corruption experts and will be hosted by Australia’s three major integrity agencies – the CMC, ICAC and the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC).
CCC Commissioner Len Roberts-Smith said the event, which will include speeches by ABC journalists Kerry O’Brien and Quentin Dempster, would be important for senior public officers.
“Corruption in public office undermines good government. It destroys the confidence the people have in government, and without the confidence of the people, a government is ineffective.”

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