Queensland Attorney-General Cameron Dick has been accused of gagging Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) boss after refusing to let him address a parliamentary committee.
Mr Dick, who appointed CMC chairman Martin Moynihan, faced intense scrutiny on Tuesday over whether Mr Moynihan supported the controversial reappointment of Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson.
Questions arose last month about Mr Atkinson’s reappointment following the release of a CMC report that detailed flawed police investigations into the Palm Island death in custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee.
In releasing the report, Mr Moynihan said Mr Atkinson had presided over a police service culture of self-protection.
At the same time, it was revealed Mr Moynihan and the government were at odds over whether Mr Moynihan was properly consulted about Mr Atkinson’s reappointment, as required by law.
The government has blamed a misunderstanding for different versions of a phone call in which Police Minister Neil Roberts believed he received Mr Moynihan’s approval, and Mr Moynihan believed he did not give it.
Mr Dick was asked about the issue on Tuesday during a parliamentary estimates committee meeting.
“Did the chairman of the CMC at any time contact you or your office to express concerns or reservations regarding the processes used to reappoint Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson, or the nature of any proposed contract?” acting Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg asked.
Mr Dick replied: “No.”
But he refused to call Mr Moynihan to the microphone when Mr Springborg directly questioned the chairman on the reappointment.
Outside parliament, Mr Moynihan told reporters he couldn’t say whether Mr Atkinson was the best person for the job and the government should have advertised the position.
“Who knows? Who knows what other candidates there might be,” he said.
“… Whether (they advertise) in the future or not, that’s in the future.”
He said he had not been gagged by Mr Dick and had “not particularly” wanted to speak at the hearing.
But Mr Springborg said the government was intent on silencing the CMC boss.
“They don’t want the chairperson to speak out and actually say what he feels and that was very, very clear today,” he told reporters.
“… This government is fearful that the chairman of the CMC knows and will say a lot about this government that it didn’t want on the public record.”
Mr Dick said he had not feared what Mr Moynihan might say.
He said it was his responsibility to answer questions.
“I, of course, can rely on advisers to answer questions but I can assure you there were no questions asked of me today that caused me any concern,” he said.
The opposition has repeatedly stated Mr Atkinson’s job should have been publicly advertised.
But the government has argued that would only be appropriate if the job was vacant.