CRITICAL: Tony Fitzgerald.
CRITICAL: Tony Fitzgerald. STEVE GRAY

Corruption boss sees parallels to Joh era

THE man who put a broom through corruption in Queensland politics in the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era, has slammed amendments proposed by the LNP Government to crime and misconduct legislation.

Tony Fitzgerald headed the Fitzgerald Inquiry in the late 1980s into police and political corruption.

Now living in retirement at Peregian, Mr Fitzgerald has made a lengthy submission to the Crime and Misconduct and Other Legislation Amendment Bill, 2014.

He warns that if enacted in its present form, partisan appointments will follow.

"Despite what politicians promise, there are no simple solutions to complex problems and neither Newman nor Bleijie has knowledge or experience of the complexities involved in balancing personal freedom and public safety through criminal justice," Mr Fitzgerald wrote.

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"Newman and Bleijie's conduct also suggests that they are unaware of, or unconcerned by, the principles and responsibilities of good governance and intolerant of dissent and decision-makers whom they can't control.

"Both seem to inhabit a political universe which is divided into 'us' and 'them', in which those who do not agree with their views or do what they demand are for that reason enemies and legitimate targets for abuse and government retribution.

"In their brief time in office, they have embarked on unprincipled attacks on courts and the judiciary, which, by virtue of their independence and authority, are obstacles to political excess, and enacted radical, profoundly mistaken laws which were not mentioned prior to the last election, including laws aimed at subordinating the criminal justice system to political interference and a flurry of extreme 'law-and-order' legislation."

He said the amendments being considered would be the final step in rendering the Crime and Misconduct Commission totally under the control of the government of the day.

"Liberal National Party politicians will not have to worry about their conduct while opposition politicians will be at constant risk, just as they were in the pre-Inquiry days when they were forced to defend government-funded defamation proceedings brought for the personal benefit of National and Liberal Party politicians," Mr Fitzgerald wrote.

"The commission will be available for use as a political weapon."

Mr Bleijie failed to comment on the submission.

Accusing the Newman Government of learning nothing from previous experience, Mr Fitzgerald said there were troubling signs that its huge majority has "re-enlivened old, bad habits".

"The Government's majority must be respected but it does not have a mandate to obliterate reforms which were necessitated by the Liberal National Party's predecessors' criminality and abuse of power or to return Queensland governance and public administration to their parlous state in the 1980s," the submission states.

"Sooner or later, the Premier will have to bring the Justice Department under control or risk public humiliation."

Mr Fitzgerald said he had responded to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee's invitation to provide a written submission on the bill out of fear that his failure to do so would leave open the possibility that may be incorrectly suggested that he did not object to it.

The Bill before this committee takes the final step needed to remove the Commission's independence entirely and bring it completely under government control.



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