Queensland’s attorney-general has made enough amendments to the overhaul of the state’s corruption watchdog stop a government MP crossing the floor.
The overhaul of Queensland’s corruption watchdog is due to pass its final hurdle after the attorney-general made a number of concessions.
Jarrod Bleijie on Wednesday acknowledged the shake-up had sparked controversy and public debate, but that without it, the “incompetent and unaccountable” Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) would run itself into the ground.
The opposition vehemently argued the laws, due to pass Wednesday night, could open the state to more misconduct and corruption.
Mr Bleijie avoided a government MP crossing the floor by making a number of concessions.
The legislation originally gave the government free rein to choose the CMC’s chair, removing the need for bipartisan approval.
But after a public backlash and recommendations from a parliamentary legal affairs committee, Mr Bleijie gave a parliamentary committee the power to veto appointments.
While that committee is dominated by government MPs, the model is similar to the one used by NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Another amendment clarified that fighting crime shouldn’t take priority over corruption investigations.
It was enough to win over Assistant Health Minister Chris Davis, who was considering voting with the opposition.
“I’m willing to give it a go,” he told AAP.
“We’ve showed we’ve listened, consulted.”
“I think we should take the changes on board, but monitor and process and most importantly make sure it aligns with public expectations.”
Before debate started, Dr Davis released a poll of his electorate.
The Tuesday night poll, conducted by ReachTEL, showed 64 per cent believed the CMC was effective in its current form.
More than 72 per cent didn’t want the ruling party to pick its chair.
And, about 56 per cent didn’t support changes to the definition of official misconduct that would reduce the number of investigations by the CMC.
The CMC has been under fire for more than a year, after releasing and shredding thousands of documents from the landmark Fitzgerald inquiry in the late 1980s, including highly confidential criminal files.
Mr Bleijie argued the CMC, which will be rebadged the Crime and Corruption Commission, had warped priorities.
“It oozed incompetence,” he said.
“It had lost focus.
“It is the most unaccountable body in Australia, certainly Queensland.
“It’s time to end the shenanigans occurring and the maladministration.”
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said Premier Campbell Newman and Mr Bleijie were arrogantly trashing Tony Fitzgerald’s legacy.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” she said.
“I’m concerned that … we may see into the future a culture of misconduct of corruption.”
“I don’t want Queensland to go back to the dark days of the moonlight state.”
The legislation was due to pass parliament on Wednesday night.