Queensland loophole 'totally and utterly wrong': WA watchdog chair
CHRIS BARRETTApril 28, 2009
The chairman of Western Australia's version of the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee (PCMC) has described as "totally and utterly wrong" the Queensland system that allows party politics to throw out complaints concerning official misconduct.
Ray Halligan, the chair of Joint Standing Committee on the Corruption and Crime Commission in WA, said the bicameral state's legislation of 2003 had been based on the Queensland model.
However, unlike in Queensland, the government does not hold a majority on WA's four-member committee.
Two members from both the lower and upper houses are required, a guideline that in practical terms has meant two each from the ALP and the Liberal Party, which holds government with the support of the National Party.
He said a legislative framework that allowed decisions on complaints concerning official misconduct and corruption to be made on a political basis was "totally and utterly wrong".
"I would have very grave concerns about that," said Mr Halligan, a Liberal member of the upper house, the Legislative Council.
"I don't agree with that at all. The committee (in WA) doesn't withhold anything.
"It doesn't put anything forward except the facts and they must go to Parliament for Parliament's decision, not the committee's."
Despite framing their legislation on Queensland's example, he said there were significant differences in the relationship between the WA committee, the Parliamentary Inspector - the West's version of our Parliamentary Commissioner - and their main corruption watchdog, the Corruption and Crime Commission.
"They do not have to come to the committee to act," Mr Halligan said of the Parliamentary Inspector.
"They can operate of their own volition. We have oversight power, but we don't control as you do over there.
"Your Parliamentary Commissioner over there does not do anything of his own accord.
"If he wanted to do something he would have to go to the committee and ask for its concurrence."
Queensland's Parliamentary Commissioner, Alan MacSporran, did not return calls.