13/07/2009 - 15:43

DPP Robert Cock to step down

13/07/2009 - 15:43

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Director of Public Prosecutions Robert Cock will step aside from his position and take a new role as special counsel to the government.

Director of Public Prosecutions Robert Cock will step aside from his position and take a new role as special counsel to the government.

Premier Colin Barnett announced Mr Cock's resignation today, saying he had not been pushed.

He said Mr Cock had not sought a new five-year contract because he believed a new person was required to provide a fresh approach to the role.

Mr Cock, a former crown QC, succeeded John McKechnie QC, now a Supreme Court judge, in February 1999.

Mr Barnett said crown prosecutor Bruno Fiannaca QC would be asked to take on the role of acting DPP when Mr Cock took up his new position of special counsel to the government.

"Mr Cock will be advising the government on both legal issues and on a policy sense on major matters related to accountability, in particular in the area of public sector reform (and) reform of the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC)," Mr Barnett told reporters in Perth.

"We do have somewhat of a confusion in WA about the numbers of accountability entities and their role, which is sometimes in conflict.

"That is why we have asked Robert Cock, as a quite brilliant legal mind, to take on this role for the government as a special counsel."

He said Mr Cock would oversee the merging of the public sector commission and the public sector standards commission, leaving responsibility for the roles of both commissions with current Public Service Commissioner Mal Wauchope.

He would also be charged with drafting legislative amendments to provide the CCC with more power to investigate organised crime.

"I have said repeatedly that the emphasis of the CCC needs to be increasingly on dealing with organised crime," Mr Barnett said.

He said Mr Cock also would be involved with finalising legislation relating to work already undertaken by the government in relation to lobbyists and consultancies.

Mr Cock was expected to take between 12 months and 18 months to complete his brief.

Mr Barnett said Mr Cock's resignation and the changes in the role of the CCC were in no way connected with a complaint lodged with the CCC against the premier.

He said today he had learned that a complaint had been lodged with the CCC alleging he was involved in misconduct in relation to the removal of a heritage listing on the family home of The Triffids lead singer, in his Perth beachside electorate of Cottesloe.

 

 

The announcement is below:

 

The Liberal-National Government today reaffirmed its commitment to improving the flexibility and integrity of the public sector with the announcement of a range of reforms including the appointment of Mr Robert Cock QC to oversee the significant and complex changes.

The reforms include merging the roles of the Public Sector Commissioner and Commissioner for Public Sector Standards to remove an overlap of responsibility; ensuring that the Corruption and Crime Commission is able to exercise its powers in relation to serious or organised crime; and legislating to register and monitor the activities of lobbyists.

Premier Colin Barnett said amendments to the Public Sector Management Act and the
Corruption and Crime Commission Act 2003 would be necessary to instigate these reforms.

"As we proceed with these reforms, there will be a need for Government to draw on expert legal and policy advice through all stages of implementation. I am therefore pleased to announce that after almost 10 years as Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Cock will assume the role of Special Counsel to the Government in the coming weeks," Mr Barnett said.

Attorney General Christian Porter said the Government was fortunate to have Mr Cock undertake this challenging and important role.

"Mr Cock is one of the sharpest legal minds in Western Australia and has particular expertise in relation to both public sector and CCC legislation. Before he assumed the role of DPP,
Mr Cock was Crown Counsel for six and a half years," Mr Porter said.

Under the reforms, the roles of the Public Sector Commissioner and Commissioner for Public Sector Standards will be merged. Mr Mal Wauchope will continue in the role of Public Sector Commissioner and report independently to State Parliament on matters that the present Commissioner for Public Sector Standards currently does.

The Premier said this provided a more logical and integrated approach to ensuring both management efficiency - currently the responsibility of the Public Sector Commissioner - and appropriate standards - now with the Commissioner for Public Sector Standards.

"This direction has been endorsed by Parliament's Public Accounts Committee which, in its report into the new Department of Premier and Cabinet and Public Sector Commission of June this year, recommended consolidation of public sector management into a single office," he said.

The Commissioner for Public Sector Standards, Dr Ruth Shean, will continue in her current role until legislative changes are in place and work with the Public Sector Commissioner on these changes. Dr Shean will then continue as a senior member of the Western Australian Public Service.

"We will make a range of amendments to the Public Sector Management Act to enable these changes. We intend to bring forward these amendments in the Spring session of Parliament, with the intention of having the arrangements in place in the New Year," Mr Barnett said.

The reforms also reaffirm the Liberal-National Government's commitment to ensuring that the CCC is able to exercise its powers in relation to serious or organised crime.

"This Government has consistently stated that the prime attention of the CCC should be directed at organised crime. To that end, we will amend the Corruption and Crime Commission Act 2003 to enable it to do that," the Premier said

"This will involve extending the CCC's jurisdiction to enable it to assist police or other crime fighting bodies in investigations related to serious and or organised crime which will significantly boost the ability to fight serious and organised crime in WA."

The CCC will still be involved in the investigation of more serious incidents of misconduct in the public sector.

The Government expects to introduce amendments to the CCC Act in the forthcoming session of Parliament.

The complex work to be undertaken by Mr Cock is anticipated to take 12-18 months and will include legislating to register and monitor the activities of consultant lobbyists.

"Lobbying is a legitimate part of the political process however the Liberal-National Government believes their activities should be monitored and reported on a regular basis," Mr Barnett said.

In just nine months, the Liberal -National Government has made significant progress in restoring community confidence in the public sector including:

- the establishment of an independent Public Sector Commission and the position of Public Sector Commissioner as one of the first acts of Government

- the appointment of Justice Christopher Steytler as Parliamentary Inspector of the Corruption and Crime Commission effective February 1, 2009

- the appointment of a new independent Freedom of Information (FOI) Commissioner, Mr Sven Bluemmel for a period of five years

"This Government was elected on a platform of honesty and integrity. The reforms announced today are further steps towards better government and a better State," the Premier said.

 

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