CMC flaws highlighted in damning report

AN INDEPENDENT investigation into the bungled release of sensitive Fitzgerald Inquiry documents should be done to determine if disciplinary action is taken, a parliamentary committee has recommended.

In a damning report into the CMC's abysmal failure to rectify the release of highly sensitive material from the historic Fitzgerald corruption Inquiry, the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee has highlighted the flaws of Queensland crime and corruption watchdog.

Last month the PCMC conducted a two-week hearing into how the CMC declassified 740 sensitive documents for public access in the State Archives and why similar material was destroyed in 2007.

The PCMC chair, Independent MP Liz Cunningham, tabled the lengthy report, including 24 recommendations, on Friday.

The committee found the destroying of documents was most probably done with the honest belief the material did not have to be detained.

But it found the CMC's upper management, including outgoing chairman Ross Martin and the official who signed off on the declassification of documents, director of information Peter Duell, committed very serious failings of corporate governance.

"If proper procedures had been followed, it is likely that the matter would have been properly resolved in September 2012 and risk minimised," the report stated.

Despite efforts to remove the sensitive material from the public eye, a journalist revealed last month some material was still available.

The report was scathing of Mr Duell, who should have investigated the actual content of the material he declassified but instead relied on a memorandum.

"He did not do so and instead relied on a memorandum drafted by his subordinate, at his direction and later amended by him; an email from General Counsel who promises further, detailed advice that was never provided..."the report stated.

"...and a brief, informal 'doorway' chat with the Acting Chairperson as the basis for his, largely undocumented, decision to release, under a blanket RAP change, the Fitzgerald Inquiry records."

The Committee found the CMC's top officials did not have a proper appreciation of the importance of the Fitzgerald Inquiry material - containing informants' names and unproven allegations against notable Queenslanders - being in the public domain.

"They are all collectively responsible for the failure to properly investigate and solve the matter," the report read.

The committee has recommended an independent review of the document bungle to establish whether any breaches have occurred and action should be taken.

It has also recommended immediate training of all officers and amending the Right to Information laws to allow access to historical inquiry documents, subject to exclusions.

Committee members including Opposition MPs Jackie Trad and Jo-Ann Miller and Independent Nicklin MP Peter Wellington signed statements of reservation regarding the findings.

The MPs stated some of the results were no more than speculative assertions and not based on fulsome investigation of the facts as presented.

Ms Cunningham wrote in the report the challenge was for the CMC and its officers to learn from the inquiry.

"This has been a painful process for the CMC and there is no doubt that there will be more pain in the coming days," she wrote.

"But the process was necessary. The CMC is an important institution.

"There is very great support for that institution to continue to play its vital role in the administration of government in Queensland."