Ninth Report — “Annual Report 2017–18” — Tabling

HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [10.09 am]: I am directed to present the ninth report of the Joint Standing Committee on the Corruption and Crime Commission titled “Annual Report 2017–18”.

[See paper 2267 - Annual Report (2017-2018) (Report No. 9) (November 2018)]

Hon ALISON XAMON: This annual report is for the reporting period of 2017–18. This was the first full year of committee operations in the current Parliament. This was a busy time for the committee, tabling seven reports and conducting 13 hearings. It also received a number of briefings in that time, covering a range of issues.

Important work completed by the committee during the reporting period included two reports tabled in relation to a complaint against the Western Australia Police Force by Dr Robert Cunningham and Ms Catherine Atoms. Members will be familiar with the case of this couple, who were tasered by police officers in 2008. The committee became aware of the plight of these two individuals and resolved to bring it to the attention of the current Corruption and Crime Commissioner and the Parliamentary Inspector of the Corruption and Crime Commission. This was a long-running saga in which the CCC consistently declined, over a number of years, to exercise its statutory duty to monitor and report upon a case of police misconduct, excessive use of force, tampering with physical evidence and collusion in the content of sworn evidence.

The parliamentary inspector’s report on the matter, tabled by the committee in October 2017, was fully endorsed by the committee. It demonstrates that robust oversight of powerful organisations such as the CCC and WA Police Force continues to be essential. In this report the committee was critical of the way in which both the CCC and WA Police Force handled the matter—that is, both the initial complaint and also the ongoing refusal by the CCC to independently investigate the matter. A further report tabled by the committee in November 2017, aptly titled “Unfinished business: The Corruption and Crime Commission’s response to the Committee’s report on Dr Cunningham and Ms Atoms”, sought to bring the CCC to account over this refusal. The saga continued for this couple following the tabling of these reports in late 2017. Just last week, the state’s appeal against the finding of a 2016 civil trial, which awarded damages to Dr Cunningham and Ms Atoms, was thrown out. It is hoped that the couple will now be able to receive the money awarded to them by the District Court and move on from this difficult experience.

Other work conducted by the committee has included an inquiry into corruption in public procurement, initiated in late 2017. It has since proved to be a timely and topical investigation. We have recently witnessed the tabling of several reports by the CCC regarding misconduct, corruption and fraud within agency-level procurement—most notably the corruption in the North Metropolitan Health Service, which remained undetected for several years. Local government procurement also continues to be a live issue upon which the CCC has reported. The committee has continued its inquiry into the 2018–19 reporting period and expects to table a report in May 2019. This is an update of its previous reporting deadline of April 2019.

Last but not least, during the reporting period the committee continued the important oversight activities it is tasked with. It closely monitored the activities of the CCC and the parliamentary inspector. It also monitored, as far as its remit allowed, the activities of the WA Police Force and the minor misconduct function of the Public Sector Commission. Activities during the reporting period, carried out as a part of the committee’s oversight function, include: reporting on section 42 notices issued by the CCC; the reappointment of the parliamentary inspector for another term; addressing the parliamentary inspector’s lack of statutory authority to audit affidavits used and warrants obtained by the CCC under commonwealth legislation; and clarifying the legal composition of the committee.

I thank my colleagues on the committee for what has so far been a productive and engaging experience, and I look forward to continuing the committee’s important work into the future.


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