Most complaints to CMC 'trivial, vexatious or misdirected'

PEOPLE who make vexatious and baseless complaints could be prosecuted under sweeping changes recommended for Queensland's crime and misconduct watchdog.

Ethical standards units within government departments, designed to head off corruption, could be dismantled and misconduct investigations could remain secret unless someone is prosecuted.

Former High Court Judge Ian Callinan and Professor Nicholas Aroney, in their Crime and Misconduct Commission inquiry conclusions, found the "vast majority" of complaints the organisation processed were "trivial, vexatious or misdirected".

"The reception and disposition of so many such complaints are functions that have to be performed by someone," the report said.

"That comes at a considerable public expense.

"We have concluded that ways should be found to deter baseless complaints, not least so that proper and sufficient attention can be given to the genuine and substantial ones.

"There is reason to believe that people do on occasions seek to use complaints to the CMC and publicity about them for their own purposes, causing reputations to be traduced and the victims without a certain or expeditious remedy in defamation," the report read.

Premier Campbell Newman, who was the target of several unproven complaints during the 2012 election, said the CMC was "overwhelmed by nonsense".

He said the organisation received 13,000 allegations and 5000 complaints each year which led to just a few hundreds matters actually being investigation.

Mr Newman said making people sign statutory declarations that their claims were not baseless would give the CMC more time to go "after bikies and drug gangs".

"We've seen too many complaints played out in the media and the recommendations raise the question of publicity given to matters before the CMC, through the media," he said.

The report's conclusion summary also recommends the Public Service Commission investigate the body's structure but does not recommend separating the crime and misconduct entities to "replace one bureaucracy with two".

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said she feared the recommendations would erode the CMC's independence and give the Newman Government greater control over the watchdog.

She said the CMC heritage traced back to the Criminal Justice Commission recommended as an independent, autonomous body in the landmark Fitzgerald Report in the late 1980s.

Ms Palaszczuk said she was also concerned about the recommendations "watering down" of the official misconduct definition, dismantling ethical standards units in departments that help head off corruption and misconduct in the workplace, removing the CMC's education role and appointing a largely hand-picked implementation panel reporting to the Premier and Attorney-General.

The CMC has refused to release the whole report for fear of releasing sensitive, confidential information such as ongoing investigations or operational issues in areas such as witness protection.

The organisation, in a media release, said it was not appropriate to make detailed public comment about the report at this time.

It also noted its chair Ross Martin has formally tendered his resignation as part of ill-health retirement announced last month.

Misconduct Assistant Commissioner Warren Strange will be acting chairman.

The government will now consider which recommendations to act upon.

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