A corruption investigation that resulted in a Queensland council before sacked before legal action was eventually dropped will be the subject of a public inquiry.
The state’s Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee (PCCC), will look into the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) inquiry that resulted in fraud charges against eight councillors and the dismissal Logan City Council in 2019.
In April this year the DPP said it was dropping the prosecution after reviewing the evidence, sparking a furious reaction from the state’s peak local government body, LGAQ.
LGAQ, which insists the charges should never have been laid and has been demanding an independent inquiry, has welcomed the announcement.
“Lives, reputations and careers have been ruined and a duly elected council wrongly dismissed,” LGAQ president Mark Jamieson said.
“The LGAQ has been resolute in its call for an inquiry to ensure this travesty of justice is not swept under the carpet and we thank the PCCC for its decision today.”
PCCC chair Jon Krause announced the public inquiry into the CCC’s handing of the Logan City Council matter in a statement last Friday.
“In response to a complaint received, today the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee resolved to publicly inquire into and report on the Crime and Corruption Commission’s investigation of former councillors of Logan City Council which led to the councillors being charged with fraud; and related matters,” he said.
“The scope of the inquiry and how it will be conducted, will be announced in due course.”
CCC Chairperson Alan MacSporran has previously defended the CCC’s handling of the Logan City matter, saying the commission had at all times acted within the bounds of its powers.
A spokesman told Government News the CCC would not be making further comment.
Five year review
The PCC, which was set up to monitor the CCC, is currently undertaking a wider examination of the CCC’s performance over the last five years including its jurisdiction, responsibilities, functions and powers.
The inquiry is considering at range of the CCC’s functions and powers including corporate governance and organisational structure, investigative powers, handling of and reporting on complaints of corruption and its broader role in the criminal justice system.
The committee is due to report to parliament by June 2021.
It’s not the first time that Queensland’s local government oversight bodies have been criticised by councils.
Earlier this month, the Office of the Independent assessor responded to concerns its powers were being weaponised by detractors and political opponents.
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