Updated: Sep 13, 2022
Tony Fitzgerald is a former Australian Judge, known for presiding over the Fitzgerald Inquiry. The Fitzgerald Inquiry resulted in the resignation of former Premier of Queensland, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, along with the imprisonment of several state ministers and Queensland's police commissioner.
Investigation into Queensland's Crime & Corruption Commission
In January of 2022, with her government facing media scrutiny and allegations of corruption and loss of integrity within Queensland's Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC), Queensland's Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk requested Mr. Fitzgerald to chair an inquiry into the organisation. In August of 2022, Mr. Fitzgerald delivered 32 recommendations to the Queensland Government regarding the CCC.
These recommendations include financing a new corruption strategy and prevention unit, as well as directing the agency to rely less on seconded police by recruiting skilled civilian investigators. The report noted that the CCC's checks and balances were at risk due to the reliance on these police powers:
“The CCC lacks ... both internal and external checks and balances that appropriately addressed these risks...We have concluded that seconded police officers remain a valuable asset in the CCC’s work but their skills and experience do not entirely meet the requirements of the CCC’s corruption investigations.”
The report has since been highlighted as a potential blueprint for Australia's Federal ICAC by Griffith University integrity expert, Professor AJ Brown. Prof. Brown noted that the report's recommendation for utilising both civilian and police staff could be applied at a federal level:
“Up until now we’ve got away with a lot of informal, on-the-job training...Now is the time to recognise that the skills and the capabilities of anti-corruption professions, investigators, prevention officers, is broader than any one skill set...It’s broader than police training. It’s broader than legal training and fraud and forensic accounting – it involves all of those, plus policy and administration and management skills. That all needs to be properly developed and institutionalised. It’s not very sexy, but it’s very significant.”
Prof. Brown was also critical of the original scrutiny of the CCC prior to the inquiry and commented that Mr. Fitzgerald's report "was vindication the 'wildly out of control CCC' narrative was always false":
“The allegation that the CCC was out of control was always overblown," he said.
The Fitzgerald Inquiry
"The Commission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct," more commonly referred to as "The Fitzgerald Inquiry" was a judicial inquiry led by Mr. Fitzgerald from 1987 to 1989. The final report of the inquiry was released in 1989 and resulted in three former ministers and the Police Commissioner of Queensland being imprisoned, two by-elections and the resignation of then-Premier of Queensland, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, resigning, ending the National Party of Australia's 32-year dominance as the governing party of Queensland. The recommendations of the report also led to the establishment of the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) and the Electoral and Administrative Review Commission.