|Posted on April 21, 2013 at 10:05 AM|
Amy Remeikis of The Brisbane Times has written an interesting article about the recent review of the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission -
"The release of the Crime and Misconduct review, albeit with some information redacted, provides clarity on how former High Court judge Ian Callinan and Professor Nicholas Aroney came to make the 17 recommendations they believe will reform the Crime and Misconduct Commission.
But it also shows two intellectual titans engaged in battle; carefully worded correspondence their weapon.
In a letter dated November 28, 2012, Mr Callinan and Professor Aroney discussed vexatious and frivolous complaints and asked Mr Martin to expand on why, given the thousands of complaints received by the CMC (5303 involving 12,559 complaints in 2011-2012 alone), and the small number of proceeding investigations (about 100), (Editor's Note : Amy Remeikis seems to have missed out the word no here) vexatious complainants were prosecuted.
"Your response (during a preceding conversation) was that some would indeed have met the condition for a prosecution under the [Crime and Misconduct] Act but that the expense of prosecution may not have been justified in such cases.
You were then informed that expense was certainly not the most relevant consideration: as a former prosecutor you would well know that many prosecutions are brought at very considerable expense and that deterrence is a highly relevant factor in the exercise of a prosecutorial discretion.
There are other factors which, as you would know, are relevant.
One in particular which needs consideration, is the stress to a person the subject of an unfounded complaint.
We would add to that the expense which the subject of such a complaint may also incur in dealing with it and employing lawyers to give legal advice about it. ..."
The current legislation [section 216] allows for prosecution for vexatious or frivolous complaints, if the complainant has been warned their complaint has been classified as such, and they attempt to resubmit it or another complaint of a similar nature.
Among the first recommendations included in the report is one to amend the Crime and Misconduct Act to "enable and ensure" the prosecution of "baseless complaints", which should be defined to mean those which are malicious, vexatious, reckless or exclusively vindictive.
The government is considering the recommendations now. Time will tell whose words ultimately have the bigger impact."
Robina Cosser says :
My understanding is that the CMC have a 'devolution' policy of returning 98% of disclosures concerning Queensland government departments to the senior officers of the department concerned.
The CMC allow these senior officers to investigate / very tightly control investigations into complaints about their own behaviour and to 'find no evidence' of their own corruption/ incompetence.
My own experience suggests to me that this is the real reason why so few disclosures to the Queensland CMC are actually investigated by the CMC.
I am sure these senior departmental officers would accuse whistleblowers of being 'malicious, vexatious, reckless or vindictive'.
That seems to be part of the 'payback' that Queensland public service whistleblowers usually experience.
The first priority of the Queensland CMC should be to demonstrate that Queensland public service investigations are of a professional standard.
Then, and only then, the CMC can begin to allege that public servants who make disclosures to the CMC are malicious or vindictive.
CMC review an eloquent battle, Amy Remeikis, Brisbane Times, 19 April 2013