Review to examine corruption watchdog reporting powers

Savannah Meacham and Keira Jenkins |

Premier Steven Miles says he is determined to make the Queensland government the most transparent.
Premier Steven Miles says he is determined to make the Queensland government the most transparent.

An independent review into the Queensland corruption watchdog’s reporting powers will be held in the wake of two high profile investigations.

Premier Steven Miles on Thursday confirmed former Queensland chief justice Catherine Holmes would lead the probe into the Crime and Corruption Commission.

“I am determined to make the Queensland government the most transparent in Australia,” he said. 

Ms Holmes is expected to report to Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath by May 20. 

“The Miles government acknowledges the need to legislate new reporting powers for the CCC,” Ms D’Ath said.

“In doing so we also recognise that publishing reports relating to individual corruption matters raises complex legal, ethical and human rights issues.”

Ms D’Ath was adamant the legislation would be passed this year, despite no discussions yet within the government on whether it will be completed before the October election.

Ms D’Ath also said the government would not necessarily accept all of the report’s recommendations.

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath
Yvette D’Ath said she believed the review would look to ensure any changes strike the right balance. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

The review comes after Mr Miles in January said the government would look at expanding the CCC’s reporting powers under proposed new laws.

The state government has come under fire from the opposition, who have called for the release of an anti-corruption report involving former deputy premier Jackie Trad.

Ms Trad was investigated by the CCC after being accused of overruling an independent selection panel to ensure her own pick was installed as under-treasurer in 2019.

She later won a court battle to keep secret the watchdog’s report, with the Supreme Court in October ordering Ms Trad’s application against the CCC be dismissed after all parties accepted the state’s law would not allow its release.

A precedent had been set one month earlier in a High Court case involving a CCC report of allegations against former public trustee Peter Carne.

The court ruled the report into Mr Carne was not subject to parliamentary privilege and could not be released.

The state government had been considering legal advice for months after CCC chair Bruce Barbour pushed for changes to its reporting powers.

Ms D’Ath believed the review would look at ensuring any law changes strike the right balance in what had been described as a “complex matter”.

“We believe that the best way to give the public confidence in the decision is that we don’t make a knee-jerk reaction of introducing legislation into the parliament that looks simple on the face of it,” she said on Thursday.

She said there was no uniformity across Australia regarding corruption watchdog powers and reporting abilities. 

“You can’t just cut and paste,” she said.

Ms D’Ath said having an independent reviewer would take the politics out of the decision.

Shadow attorney-general Tim Nicholls said the independent review announcement was a delay tactic.

“Quite clearly the government is trying to kick this can down the road,” he said. 

Mr Miles on Thursday said the government would also expand shield laws for journalists to include CCC proceedings.

It would ensure journalists cannot be compelled to provide information or documents if a confidential source could potentially be identified, unless it was in the public interest.