Commissions of Inquiry
Crown Law has a long history of assisting Commissions of Inquiry and acting for the Queensland Government in inquiries and royal commissions. In a number of instances, we have had lawyers involved in both of these aspects of the same inquiry.
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was commissioned to investigate how institutions such as schools, churches, sports clubs and government organisations have responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse.
In February 2013 – one month after the Royal Commission terms of reference were established and the Commissioners appointed – Crown Law was engaged by the Department of Premier and Cabinet to represent the State before the Royal Commission. Senior Deputy Crown Solicitor, Tony Keyes and Principal Lawyer, Mark Zemek provided representation for the State's whole-of-Government response at a range of investigative and other hearings into the Salvation Army's operation of Alkira Home for Boys, Indooroopilly, and the Riverview Training Farm, Riverview; the Roman Catholic Diocese of Toowoomba in relation to a primary school; swimming coaches; and St Joseph’s Orphanage (Neerkol), Rockhampton. The Royal Commission’s reports on those and other hearings and its interim report on 30 June 2014 are available at www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/about-us/our-reports. Its final report is due at the end of 2017.
Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program
In December 2013, Crown Law was instructed to represent the State of Queensland in relation to the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program. In early March 2014, the State completed the disclosure of relevant documents to the Commission and, by early May 2014, Crown Law and Counsel had reviewed and settled witness statements which were lodged with the Commission.
In public sittings that commenced in Brisbane on 17 March 2014 and continued for 36 days, the Commission heard evidence from 56 witnesses, including Commonwealth senior public servants, consultants, industry representatives, installers, former State public servants, senior politicians and family representatives.
Royal Commissioner, Ian Hanger AM QC delivered his report on the Home Insulation Program on 29 August 2014 which was tabled in Federal Parliament on 1 September 2014.
Queensland Racing Commission of Inquiry
The State Government announced in May 2013 that it would establish an inquiry into Racing Queensland. The Commission was required to conduct an inquiry into the operations of the former racing control bodies in Queensland being Racing Queensland Limited and its predecessors over the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 April 2012.
The Commission considered extensive Terms of Reference relating to the racing industry in Queensland, including the operation and management of the racing control bodies and the level of their oversight by Government. The findings of the Queensland Racing Commission of Inquiry were presented to the Premier on 7 February 2014.
Crown Law represented the interests of the State of Queensland at the Inquiry and provided advice during the implementation of the Report’s recommendations.
Queensland Health Payroll Commission of Inquiry
The State Government appointed Richard Chesterman AO RFD QC in February 2013 to conduct an inquiry into the implementation of the Queensland Health payroll system with respect to previous reviews of the payroll system implementation: the KPMG implementation review; and the Auditor-General of Queensland’s report titled 'Information Systems Governance and Control, including the Queensland Health Implementation of Continuity Project (2010)'.
Assistant Crown Solicitor, Melinda Pugh led the Crown Law team on behalf of the State, assisted by Deputy Crown Solicitor, Helen Freemantle . The Commission’s legal team was led by Assistant Crown Solicitor, Fran Copley.
The Inquiry Report was presented in July 2013.
Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry
The Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry was established on 1 July 2012 to review Queensland’s child protection system. A dedicated team of lawyers from Crown Law has been representing Queensland Government agencies before the Commission.
Crown Law advised Government agencies in relation to summonses and requests for the production of documents and information issued by the Commission and provided legal support to Queensland Government officers who were called to give evidence before the Commission. Among the several Crown Law staff who provided legal services to the Commission was Deputy Crown Solicitor, Peter Dwyer .
The Inquiry’s final report recommended far-reaching reforms to the child protection system and related matters.
Queensland Flood Commission of Inquiry
On Monday 17 January 2011, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh established an independent Commission of Inquiry to examine the 2010/2011 flood disaster that affected 70 per cent of the state. Justice Catherine Holmes was appointed commissioner, and Jim O’Sullivan AC and Phillip Cummins were appointed deputy commissioners. The Terms of Reference for the inquiry provided for an independent and thorough examination of the chain of events leading to the floods, all aspects of the response and the subsequent aftermath of the 2010/2011 flood events.
The Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry took public submissions from across Queensland and held three rounds of public hearings in affected areas. It also held community meetings and consultations in 13 locations in central and western Queensland, and the Lockyer Valley.
The final report was handed down in March 2012 by Commissioner Catherine Holmes.
Bundaberg Hospital Commission of Inquiry
The Bundaberg Hospital Commission of Inquiry was originally appointed on 26 April 2005 with Anthony Morris QC as Commissioner. The Deputy Commissioners were former Health Minister (1974–1978) Sir Llewellyn Edwards, who also holds degrees in medicine and surgery, and the Director of Mission at Holy Spirit Northside, Margaret Vider, a former Director of Nursing at Holy Spirit Hospital and the Nurse Surveyor on the Australian Council on Health Care Standards.
Crown Law provided two teams of lawyers, law clerks and administrative staff – one to assist the Inquiry and another to appear for Queensland Health. The Inquiry team, which comprised Clare Murphy, Jarrod Cowley-Grimmond and Angus Scott and led by Tony Stella, worked closely with counsel from the private Bar – David Andrews SC, Richard Douglas SC, Errol Morzone and Damien Atkinson.
The Commission team prepared briefs of evidence and instructed counsel during the public hearings in Bundaberg, prepared documents to be exhibited and provided to the media, and drafted and served summons and swearing of statements for witnesses who were giving evidence before the Commission. In total, the Commission team spent about six weeks based in Bundaberg for the preparation stages of the Inquiry and for the public hearings.
On 2 September 2005, the Queensland Supreme Court decided to end the Bundaberg Hospital Commission of Inquiry on the grounds that there was reasonable apprehension of bias by the Commissioner. Geoff Davies AO was appointed the Commissioner of the Queensland Public Hospitals Commission of Inquiry. This Inquiry, for which no Deputy Commissioners were appointed, continued hearing evidence in Brisbane for a further 30 days.
At the conclusion of the sittings, the Commission team assisted the Commissioner to prepare the final report and recommendations which were presented to the Premier, Treasurer and CMC on 30 November 2005.