Inquiry hears Fitzgerald documents may have been shredded
SENSITIVE documents from the Fitzgerald Inquiry intended to remain classified for more than 65 years were misidentified and exposed to the public eye a year before anybody noticed.
The release is the subject of a Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee inquiry into how the material, including corruption inquiry targets and startling allegations, was declassified in the State Archives.
Crime and Misconduct chair Ross Martin told the PCMC last week a series of documents was meant to be subject to a longer than normal exemption period before being released.
But on February 3, 2012, the retention period changed from 65 years to 20 years and the sensitive documents were mistakenly identified as ready for public access.
Mr Martin said former Special Branch member Barry Krosch was researching the Fitzgerald-era material at the archives when he discovered "interesting things" which probably should not have been available.
He contacted the CMC, Mr Martin said, but the problem was only partially fixed.
State archivist director Janet Prowse also told the inquiry last week 19 people had viewed the Fitzgerald Inquiry documents.
Mr Martin also admitted that up to 4000 documents relating to the police corruption inquiry could have been mistakenly shredded in 2007.
He revealed a journalist had requested recently a Fitzgerald Inquiry document which was missing, when authorities discovered the destruction issue this month.
Public hearings on the issue will continue on Thursday and Friday.
Cunninham on front foot during parliamentary inquiry
QUEENSLAND'S Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee chair has taken aim at sensational commentary surrounding the release of confidential documents from the Fitzgerald Inquiry and flagged the potential for greater parliament oversight.
The PCMC is conducting an inquiry into how material from the Fitzgerald Inquiry into corruption was declassified in the State Archives.
Committee chair and Gladstone MP Liz Cunningham opened the hearing on Wednesday morning with a swipe at claims that blame for the document release lay with the PCMC.
"It has been a week since this committee became aware about the misclassification of Fitzgerald Inquiry material in the State Archives and a little later the destruction of some Fitzgerald Inquiry files in the CMC," she said.
"Despite this, there has been an allegation that the fault in the matter lays with this committee.
"This claim is not based on fact and represents a complete misunderstanding of the CMC and this committee."
The comments were made to be sensational, Ms Cunningham said.
The Fitzgerald Inquiry documents have since been reclassified and removed from the public eye.
The PCMC, responsible for overseeing the operations of the CMC, questioned State Archives staff last week in a closed hearing.
Ms Cunningham said the committee is precluded by legislation from being involved in the day-to-day operation of the CMC.
She said the absence of powers to direct the CMC has added the frustration over time taken to finalise matters.
"We are determined to make a successful model for the future," she said.
"On this note the committee wishes to emphasise we are not afraid of positive reform of either the CMC or the PCMC.
"We are open to new better measures of parliamentary oversight."
The committee will hear from Barry Krosch, a former Special Branch officer and seconded to help with the Fitzgerald Inquiry, via video-link this afternoon.