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Queensland to repeal police discipline system set up after Fitzgerald inquiry

Ben Smee reports in The Guardian (13.3.19) on a bill before the Queensland Parliament which will revise the external systems for police disciplinary investigations, repealing some of the earliest post-Fitzgerald policing reforms in the process.’Queensland is poised to repeal the police disciplinary system established after the landmark Fitzgerald corruption inquiry, prompting concerns from civil liberties experts that the proposed changes have “fundamental” flaws.

‘Legislation to establish a new police discipline system was tabled in the state parliament last month, after years of pressure from the influential Queensland police union. The bill has bipartisan support and will likely pass later this year.

‘The police union president, Ian Leavers, has hailed the demise of “the old punitive police discipline system” established in 1990, in the immediate aftermath of the Fitzgerald inquiry.

‘The new system encourages the use of “management strategies” rather than formal sanctions for police misconduct and misbehaviour. Officers can no longer have their salary reduced. Complaints are to be “streamlined” to ensure they do not take longer than 12 months.

‘Terry O’Gorman, a long-time champion of civil liberties in Queensland, said the existing police discipline system was flawed and an overhaul needed but the proposed changes were “narrow and only address police union complaints”.’

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