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Tony Fitzgerald to head inquiry into Queensland corruption watchdog’s structure

Matt Dennien reports in the Brisbane Times (31.1.22) on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s surprise announcement that Tony Fitzgerald QC will lead an inquiry into the operations and structure of Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission.

‘The former judge who oversaw Queensland’s landmark Fitzgerald inquiry will head a fresh probe into the structure of the state’s under-pressure corruption watchdog, as the government battles growing integrity questions.

‘Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the six-month commission of inquiry, to be chaired by Tony Fitzgerald QC, on Monday as part of her govern,ent’s response to a damning report into the Crime and Corruption Commission’s handling of the Logan council case.

‘Ms Palaszczuk said that parliamentary committee report, handed down in December, had also found “systemic cultural issues” which would now be investigated by the new inquiry – to also feature retired Supreme Court judge Alan Wilson, QC, as a commissioner.

‘The announcement comes after a long-awaited cabinet meeting to discuss the parliamentary crime and corruption committee’s six recommendations, including the probe into the watchdog’s ability to both investigate and lay charges, along with the role of seconded police officers.

‘But with wide questions swirling in the past weeks about interference in the work of two of the state’s other key oversight agencies – the Integrity Commissioner and State Archivist – the inquiry has failed to appease the LNP Opposition’s calls for a broader probe into integrity in the state.’

Premier again under siege over integrity as she rejects early recall of parliament

Nick Gibbs reports in InQLD (9.2.22) on additional questions of integrity and transparency troubling Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government, principally relating to claims from the state’s Integrity Commissioner and former State Archivist.

‘An attempt to recall the Queensland Parliament early to scrutinise a number of integrity accusations has been swiftly rejected by the state’s premier as she denied her government had moved to sack Integrity Commissioner Nikola Stepanov.

‘With the state’s political agenda again dominated by questions over the government’s record on integrity matters, Ms Palaszczuk was forced to address claims by Dr Stepanov that the government had taken steps to remove her after she raised the alarm over suspicious conduct.

‘Stepanov has tendered her resignation from her post but has told News Corp she believed that her referral to a parliamentary oversight committee last year was likely a government move to have her sacked.

‘Questioned about the referral, the premier flatly denied it was about removing Stepanov, saying the question was “factually incorrect”. Parliament is not due to return until February 22, but opposition leader David Crisafulli wants MPs to return next week so ministers can “face the music”.’

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