27/09/2019 - 17:37

Quigley amps up corruption fight

27/09/2019 - 17:37

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State Attorney General John Quigley has taken a battle between parliament’s upper house and the Corruption and Crime Commission to the Supreme Court.

Quigley amps up corruption fight
The Legislative Council is the upper house of state parliament. Photo: Attila Csaszar

State Attorney General John Quigley has taken a battle between parliament’s upper house and the Corruption and Crime Commission to the Supreme Court.

The dispute relates to a CCC investigation into use of parliamentary expenses, where the commission requested documents that may have been covered by parliamentary privilege.

That led to a stand off in mid-August between the Legislative Council’s parliamentary privileges committee and the leadership of Department of Premier and Cabinet about whether documents should be handed over, and how.

Two weeks ago, the commission ordered the council’s clerk to produce documents for the investigation, but on Wednesday, the council voted to direct the clerk not to produce the documents.

According to a release by Mr Quigley’s office, the CCC’s request pertained specifically only to content not covered by parliamentary privilege.

“(The council’s) resolution was passed despite a previous report by the (parliamentary privileges committee) referring to an opinion from eminent QC Chris Zelestis advising that the Legislative Council did not have the power to order non-MLCs not to produce documents,” the release said. 

“If the notices to produce created a valid obligation on the clerk to produce the material and he did not comply with them, the clerk may be in contempt of the CCC, which is a serious matter.

“On the other hand, if the Legislative Council's resolution to order the clerk not to comply with the notices was valid, that would have serious implications for the integrity and oversight of politicians in Western Australia.

“In tabled correspondence, the CCC advised that it is investigating "grave allegations of serious misconduct against former members of Parliament". 

“It has also advised that the material… (was) "significant to the commission's investigation" and that "denial of the data will adversely impact the progress of the investigation".”

Mr Quigley said if the council’s motion was valid, it would have serious consequences.

“This may mean a chamber of parliament can order anybody to not comply with investigations into corrupt politicians,” he said.

"It would mean that a political party could use a majority in a chamber of parliament to protect a corrupt colleague from investigation by the CCC.

"As the state's first law officer and the minister responsible for the administration of the Corruption, Crime and Misconduct Act, I am left with no alternative in this dispute between the Legislative Council and the CCC but to seek guidance from the Supreme Court."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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