Anonymous complaints will no longer be investigated by Queensland’s corruption watchdog but that won’t stop the ombudsman passing them on.
Queensland’s ombudsman will pass on anonymous corruption complaints to the state’s revamped anti-corruption body even though it is losing the power to investigate nameless tip-offs.
Only children, people with disabilities and those who fear for their safety, jobs or property will be able to make complaints without signing a statutory declaration when reforms to the Crime and Misconduct Commission take effect.
The changes have been contentious, with government MP Chris Davis last week sacked as assistant health minister, in part for speaking out against them.
The Labor opposition is also opposed to the changes.
Queensland Ombudsman Phil Clarke has told a parliamentary committee it would be inappropriate for his office to follow up any corruption allegations, regardless of the complaint, under the new anti-corruption regime.
“Under the new provisions, it’s likely that I would take the conservative view and if there was anything in there that substantially pointed to potential corruption … I’d give the commission the opportunity to assess it,” he said.
Independent MP Peter Wellington said constituents had asked his office if the ombudsman could investigate anonymous corruption allegations.
“People have asked if it would be appropriate for their complaint to be brought through you because the perception is … clearly you are further removed, or not as closely connected, to the leadership of this government,” he told the hearing.
The ombudsman said he didn’t want to compromise the new-look body, which will be known as the Crime and Corruption Commission.
“If there is corrupt conduct … I may, in fact, interfere with ultimately the corruption body’s investigation of that matter,” Mr Clarke said.
The ombudsman investigates mismanagement complaints against state and local government, public universities and administrative police matters.
The CMC’s acting chairman Ken Levy is remaining in his role until a chief executive and chair are found this year.
Dr Levy has previously voiced concern about the removal of provision for anonymous complaints.