Jarrod Bleijie claims govt had no choice but sack PCMC
UPDATE: Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie says the government had been left with no choice but to relieve the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee of its duties.
Mr Bleijie laid the blame for the events which reached their peak late into the night of the final sitting of parliament for the year, squarely on the shoulders of Labor MPs Jo-Ann Miller and Jackie Trad and Independent members Peter Wellington and Liz Cunningham saying that their bias had destroyed any credibility the PCMC had.
The issue at the centre of this bubbling cauldron is the committee's treatment of CMC acting chair Dr Ken Levy, who has been accused of misleading the PCMC about meetings he had with the Premier's office, before penning an op-ed piece for the Courier Mail supporting the state government's anti-biking laws.
Today Mr Bleijie spoke largely from the same script he used when commenting on the parliament's actions last night saying the members of the committee had failed in their duties by prejudging Dr Levy in a public forum without according him procedural fairness.
"If you were in court with a jury and four members of the jury went and tweeted, gave press conferences and made Facebook accusations that this person is guilty of an offence before he was tried properly the whole jury would be stood down and there may be a mistrial," Mr Bleijie said.
"That's what's happened to Dr Ken Levy here. He has been prejudged by members of the committee that should ought to have known better and not made public comment on it. What we are making sure of, what parliament has made sure of is that Dr Levy has been given every chance of procedural fairness, he will now be able to have a proper say in the confines of a new ethics committee."
Mr Bleijie dismissed suggestions that the government was using its large majority to remove the checks and balances and would do so again if committees offered comment that was not to their liking.
"The PCMC were discharged from their duties because I think they showed they can't be trusted to complete an assessment in the future without it being in a biased, compromised, tainted and corrupted way," he said.
"If the process of natural justice and procedural fairness had been followed this would not have been an issue."
Campbell Newman behaving like 'dictator' in PCMC sacking
Premier Campbell Newman has been accused of behaving like an arrogant dictator after his government sacked a watchdog committee.
The Newman government sacked the entire Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee following a two-day slanging match between the Attorney-General and Labor MPs over the committee's handling of the Ken Levy affair.
Submitted to the house just after 9pm on the last sitting day of the year, the dismissal of the committee was included in a motion to move the matter of whether the acting head of the CMC misled the PCMC to a select ethics committee, Fairfax reported.
Given the government's majority, there was no way the motion could fail.
All opposition and independent MPs voted against it, but all government MPs voted in favour.
A new ethics committee will be established with government MPs, headed by Gympie MP David Gibson.
The motion followed the PCMC questioning the fulsomeness of Dr Levy's statement about his discussions with government media advisers before the publication of his October 31 opinion piece supporting the government's anti-gang legislation.
Sunshine Coast Independent MP Peter Wellington blasted the government over the committee's axing, saying Campbell Newman was behaving like a dictator.
"It was not that long ago that they removed Alex Douglas, who was the chairman.
"They didn't like what he was doing so what do they do - they remove him.''
"It is really about total control,'' Mr Wellington, who was a member of the PCMC, said.
"If the government doesn't like what you are doing they will sack you or get rid of you.''
"I can't believe the arrogance of the Campbell Newman government. They have used a whole range of reasons to justify the sackings.''
The Nambour-based MP said he could not comment too much otherwise he might be held in contempt by the government.
Mr Wellington said Queenslanders had a right to know all the information on whether Dr Levy had misled the PCMC.
Labor Party accused of having grudge against acting CMC chair
KEN Levy, acting chief of the Crime and Misconduct Committee, dominated the last Question Time of the year with both Premier Campbell Newman and Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie accusing the Opposition of having a vendetta against the law professor.
Dr Levy's opinion piece, published in the Courier Mail at the end of October, about the influence and effect of criminal motorcycle gangs and whether he had been groomed before writing the article by the Premier's office, has been the focus not just of Question Time but also a number of private parliamentary committee hearings.
But yesterday the Premier attempted to draw attention away from the discrepancies in the accounts of alleged meetings given by Lee Anderson, the head of the government's media unit, and Dr Levy saying the Opposition was biased and presented tainted views.
He added the Labor Party had a grudge against Dr Levy for actions he took in 2004 against Rod Welford, reporting the then Attorney-General for allegations of misconduct.
Mr Bleijie added his voice to the Premier's disapproval arguing that Dr Levy had been judge and jury executed before a fair trial had taken place.
"What we have witnessed in the past few weeks is an absolute political witch hunt," he said.
"We know that the member for Bundamba had a personal vendetta against Dr Levy because he kicked her out of the department of justice 17 years ago. We know that Rod Welford, the former Attorney-General, had a vendetta against Dr Levy.
"This is payback by the Labor Party. They should be condemned and Queenslanders should see this for exactly what it is."
Despite the protests and smokescreens the water is murky as to why Dr Levy failed to mention continued contact with Mr Anderson to the PCMC and whether he mislead the committee members as to how much instruction he actually received from the Premier's office.
While Dr Levy initially said he had no contact with the Government over the new bikie laws and the article was his idea, Mr Anderson told a PCMC meeting that he had in fact been in contact with the CMC media unit, with the blessing of the Premier and Mr Bleijie, to suggest they take an active role with the media and had also organised the meeting with Dr Levy and the journalist who did the article.
When quizzed today the Premier said he had no knowledge of the piece until it appeared in the newspaper and it was very appropriate for the government to be in constant contact with the CMC.
"There has been ongoing contact but again the clear point here is that the government had no contact with Dr Levy in terms of getting him to do an opinion piece or writing the opinion piece or telling him what should be in the opinion piece. There was no such action.
"What is there to hide? We are not embarrassed whatsoever about the ongoing contact with the CMC to rid this state of criminal gangs."