A Queensland parliamentary committee could have new powers to veto head appointments to the state’s corruption watchdog.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie wants to overhaul the state’s Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC), including removing bipartisan support for its chair, chief executive officer and commissioners.
Opponents say the move gives the government unfettered power and erodes the legacy of the Fitzgerald inquiry into corruption.
And Tony Fitzgerald himself says the CMC overhaul will adversely affect Queenslanders and ultimately end in tears for the government.
“It has staked our future and its future on the whims of a few inexperienced, arrogant fools who seem unaware of the extent of their own ignorance,” he said.
The Legal Affairs Committee, made up of a majority government MPs, scrutinised the bill and on Wednesday recommended it pass.
But it wants a number of amendments, including giving a parliamentary oversight committee veto powers on the appointment of commissioners.
Government MPs have a majority on that committee, too.
Legal Affairs Committee chair Ian Berry said they rejected total bipartisan approval as it is an out-of-date model.
“I don’t think bipartisanship really what was recommended by Tony Fitzgerald, in fact he made no recommendation,” Mr Berry said.
“In fact bipartisanship was a different era, it was a time when there was corruption, when there was an almost meeting of minds of both opposition and government and they decided to adopt that stance.
“Times have moved on.”
Mr Bleijie would review the recommendations but didn’t say if he’d adopt them.
Before the release of the report, Premier Campbell Newman said he had “an open mind”.
“If we have to change it, and perhaps align it with Australian Crime Commission or ICAC, very happy to do that.”
Opposition and independent MPs on the committee lost their push to overturn a ban on anonymous tip offs.
Acting CMC chair Ken Levy had argued that secret tip-offs resulted in the downfalls of fake Tahitian prince Joel Barlow who stole $16 million from Queensland Health and former Labor health minister Gordon Nuttall who received corrupt payments.
But the committee agreed with the government to have statutory declarations signed to reduce the amount of malicious and vexatious complaints which had been bogging down the CMC.
The committee however also asked for Attorney-General to consult with the oversight committee when approving the commission’s research.