Olympics secrecy poses ‘corruption risk’ to Queensland, says watchdog

Queensland’s proposed 2032 Olympics laws “present corruption risks” and should not exempt federal MPs on the organising committee from scrutiny, the state’s watchdog warns.

Nov 16, 2021, updated Nov 16, 2021
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (left) and AOC President John Coates (right) are seen after a media conference announcing Queensland's bid to host the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (left) and AOC President John Coates (right) are seen after a media conference announcing Queensland's bid to host the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane. (AAP Image/Darren England)

The bill, which is currently being vetted by a state parliamentary committee, lays out the rules and make up of the Games’ organising committee.

The panel will oversee the sports program, accommodation for athletes and officials, and cultural and sporting events such as the torch relay and opening and closing ceremonies.

But Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) chair Alan MacSporran is concerned because the bill doesn’t require politicians on the committee to disclose conflicts of interest related to their roles as elected officials.

This could present “a corruption risk” because politicians would still be able to vote on matters such as the location of Olympics infrastructure within their own electorates.

“The CCC has concerns with this aspect of the bill as it presents corruption risks,” MacSporran wrote in a submission to the committee.

“The CCC does not consider that such a carve out for this issue is necessary or desirable.

“If a conflict arises between an elected office bearer’s duties and their role as a director on the corporation it should be declared and managed.”

The CCC chair also has “serious concerns” about federal politicians on the committee being exempt from any investigation by the watchdog.

A clause says the Queensland Crime and Corruption Act 2001 “does not apply” to directors who are federal MPs or senators.

MacSporran says there’s no apparent reason to justify their exemption, which is “overly broad” and may have “unintended consequences”.

“There is no principled reason why Commonwealth parliamentarians should be exempted from this accountability regime,” he wrote.

“It would be perverse if all other directors of the corporation were within the CCC’s jurisdiction, but directors who were members of the Commonwealth parliament were not.

“That is particularly so given the absence of an equivalent Commonwealth integrity body with jurisdiction over members of the Commonwealth parliament.”

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McSporran called for the clause exempting federal politicians from CCC scutiny to be scrapped.

Queensland Information Commissioner Rachael Rangihaeata has also raised concerns about clauses relating to Right to Information.

The bill would shield organising committee documents “communicated in confidence” by, or for, the Australian Olympic Committee or the International Olympic Committee from RTI applications.

The government has said the exemption only relates to documents involving the AOC and IOC, in matters such as sponsorships, and is consistent with laws passed in NSW for the Sydney 2000 Games.

Rangihaeata said the clause is “inconsistent” with the 2008 Solomon report, which recommended that RTI exclusions be limited.

“It is critical that individual legislative proposals are considered in the context of the broader policy and departures from such are clearly justified,” she wrote.

“In this case, the explanatory notes (for the bill) do not provide a compelling case to justify an exclusion from the operation of the RTI Act contrary to recent policy expressed by the Attorney-General’s Review Report.”

A Queensland government spokesperson told AAP on Tuesday that it would consider “any recommendations made by the committee after all stakeholder feedback has been provided”.

The Economics and Governance Committee inquiry into the bill continues.

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