CPDS Home Contact Professionalism: Chronological Summary

10 November 2003

Email to Hon Mr Peter Beattie, MLA
Premier of Queensland

Proposed Inquiry into Office of Director of Public Prosecutions Lacks Credibility

According to press reports (Parnell S., 'Heads roll in Hanson fallout', Courier Mail, 8/11/03) the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions is to be subject to a sweeping review by the Public Service Commissioner - as a result of fallout from the One Nation fraud trial.

However I submit that such a review must lack credibility, because:

Evidence in relation to these points follows this email.

Any inquiry into problems in Queensland's judicial system (including the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions) needs to be independent of your government.


John Craig


Allegations about politicisation in Queensland's judicial system

Amongst the allegations of politicisation of the Queensland judicial system, which parallel the similar treatment of Queensland's Public Service, are:

There are questions about the administration of justice in Queensland (eg dropping of case against swim coach; jailing of Pauline Hanson). State's former Chief Magistrate was jailed. Controversial appointments were made by Justice Minister. He appointed women to four of state's top judicial positions. He appointed many judges who have had controversial judicial careers. Opposition claims that this was misplaced policy of affirmative action - an experiment in social policy. Police confidence in the judiciary is seen to be being eroded. The magistracy and the DPP are seen to have been politicised. Under Foley, half DPP's prosecutors left. Moral in Office DPP is seen as low. Junior staff are handling difficult cases without adequate supervision. The quality of work is seen as questionable. (Roberts G. 'Case against affirmative action', Weekend Australian, 6-7/9/03)

An independent judiciary is a cornerstone of the political system - yet what should happen when the judiciary does not deliver sentences in line with community standards and a government appoints a chief magistrate with clear links to its own ministers. There are real questions about the judiciary's performance. The Chief Magistrate was found by the Supreme Court to have exceeded her powers, and the CMC believes that criminal charges might be appropriate. This is of concern as she was a government appointee with links to several ministers. The Attorney General was obliged to appeal the leniency of about 30 sentences - with the greatest number arising from decisions by another Beattie government appointee. The quality of Beattie Government judicial appointments is now a live issue (Franklin M., 'Judging the judges', Courier Mail, 14/12/02)

Additional related articles are outlined in Judicial system

The Office of Public Service Merit and Equity lacks Credibility in Dealing with Political Abuse of Public Service Appointments

The OPSME has not to date made any apparent impression on chronic problems in Queensland's Public Service.

A general account of The Growing Case for a Professional Public Service is on my web-site.

It can be noted that this includes expressions of concern by the Queensland Public Sector Union that ministerial bullying of public servants was increasing as a symptom of the breakdown of the Westminster tradition which had afforded the public service more respect than it gets now (Johnstone C. 'Driven to distraction', Courier Mail, 15/6/02) - see also History of the Breakdown of the Westminster Tradition and the Growth of Public Service Bullying.

However more specifically the OPSME has demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to do anything serious about the general erosion of Public Service professionalism which invariably follows when a Public Service (which lacks the protection that the Westminster tradition used to provide) becomes dominated by political cronies and 'yes men' with limited professional competencies.

I have been for more than a decade pursuing a clear case of denial of natural justice through the refusal by Premier's Department to allow professional merit to be considered in relation to a dispute about the making of a senior policy R&D position. This case was described by one observer as a test case for the Westminster tradition (see McDermott P., `Tenure of Senior Queensland Public Servants', Australian Journal of Public Administration, March 1993).

When the Office of Public Service Merit and Equity was established in 2001 (following the bad odour created by its predecessor), I was assured by the Premier's Chief of Staff that it reflected the government's "commitment to the application of public service employment practices that are not only based on merit, but are fair, reasonable and provide equal employment opportunities for all".

However, this claim was pure nonsense (see Fairness in Public Service Appointments - which clearly demonstrates the OPSME's limitations in dealing with the consequences of politically driven abuses).