The McGowan Government is delivering one of its key election commitments by reintroducing legislation to reappoint John McKechnie QC to the helm of the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) for a second term.
The Corruption, Crime and Misconduct Bill 2021 is required after the newly constituted Joint Standing Committee on the Corruption and Crime Commission (JSCCCC) was again unable to provide majority and bipartisan support for Mr McKechnie’s reappointment, as required by the Corruption, Crime and Misconduct Act 2003.
The position of Commissioner has been advertised nationally and Mr McKechnie was identified, for a second time, as the ‘outstanding nominee’ submitted to the Premier by the nominating committee.
The nominating committee includes the Chief Justice of Western Australia, the Hon. Peter Quinlan SC, District Court Chief Judge Julie Wager and a community representative nominated by the Governor.
The JSCCCC’s deadlock came despite support by Commissioner of Police Chris Dawson APM praising Mr McKechnie’s corruption and crime-fighting credentials, describing him as ‘a person of unquestioned integrity, tenacity and strength to perform the role in leading the CCC’.
The CCC has been without a substantive Commissioner since April 2020 after Mr McKechnie’s reappointment was twice blocked by the Liberal member of the JSCCCC in the last term of Parliament.
Mr McKechnie had been leading a number of important investigations, including the misuse of allowances by some former Liberal parliamentarians.
As stated by Premier Mark McGowan:
“Mr McKechnie is the best person to be appointed Commissioner. His credentials have no match.
“That’s why we made an election commitment to introduce this legislation if the Opposition blocked his reappointment.
“Opposition MPs blocking the reappointment of the Corruption and Crime Commissioner at a time when the CCC was investigating Opposition MPs for misusing entitlements was clearly unacceptable.
“We will now implement our clear mandate from the people of WA to reappoint the State’s best corruption fighter.
“Parliament entrusted the CCC with holding elected officials including parliamentarians to account and it is disappointing Opposition MPs have repeatedly sought to dodge this scrutiny.”
As stated by Attorney General John Quigley:
“Opposition members of Parliament have the choice of following the recommendation of the Chief Justice, the Chief Judge and the Commissioner of Police – or protecting their mates.
“The appointments process under the CCM Act is clearly deficient. The JSCCCC can only have even numbers but has to reach a majority decision, with no capacity to break a deadlock.
“The Department of Justice is currently undertaking a complete review of the CCM Act. In the meantime, today’s Bill will ensure Mr McKechnie can resume his important role without further delay.”