The Premier’s Olympics Bill protects elected officials from disclosing a conflict of interest on top of controversial secretive laws.
Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Olympics planning Bill has copped more criticism with the watchdog flagging the “corruption risks” of allowing federal MPs to be exempt from conflict of interests scrutiny.
The Queensland Premier had already been scolded for including secrecy laws to ensure documents relating to the Olympic Games were kept private.
The Brisbane Olympics and Paralympics Arrangements Bill was last month introduced to parliament to begin planning for the 2032 Games. It outlined how the workings of the committee would be protected from right to information access.
The committee will be responsible for managing billions of dollars to oversee thousands of athletes, accommodation and various events, including the opening and closing ceremonies.
Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) boss Alan MacSporran also flagged the “corruption risks” presented through elected officials who are enlisted on the board to plan the Games not being required to disclose conflict of interests.
He said the decision process was vulnerable to corruption given the power to approve and intervene on major infrastructure decisions.
“The CCC does not consider that such a carve out for this issue is necessary or desirable,” he said in a submission to the Bill.
“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.
“A perceived or actual conflict may not, of itself, necessitate the director declining to participate in discussion and voting on the issue, but this does not mean the conflict should not be declared and considered.”
The Queensland government has also faced backlash for its proposed amendments to the Right to Information Act to protect Olympics deals from being released to the public.
Related documents that “comprises information of a confidential nature that was communicated in confidence” will be kept private, the Bill’s explanatory notes outline.
“This clause is justified given the sensitive nature of some of the documents that will be developed in connection with the performance of the corporation’s functions, such as commercial-in-confidence information in relation to the corporation’s local marketing program,” the government said.
It also notes similar provisions were included for the planning committee in the lead-up to the Sydney 2000 Games.
But the state’s Information Commissioner Rachael Rangihaeata said the clause was “inconsistent” with a report from 2008 that called for exclusions to the Right to Information Act be limited following an independent panel chaired by Dr David Solomon.
This was also supported in 2017 by a review report from the former attorney-general.
“In the Solomon Report, the panel specifically argue against including exclusions to allay concerns about disclosure where exemptions or the public interest test can easily protect sensitive information,” Ms Rangihaeata wrote in the submission.
“Exclusions are used sparingly in the RTI Act given the impact of such a provision, and as stated in the Review Report, the RTI Act has a sufficient legislative framework to protect sensitive documents, including commercial-in-confidence information.”
The Information Commissioner also rejected the precedence of the Sydney 2000 Games planning committee, initially created in the early ’90s.
“A right to information law that strikes an appropriate balance between the right of access and limiting that right of access on public interest grounds is critical to both a robust, accountable government and an informed community,” Ms Rangihaeata continued.
“This is clearly reflected in the reservations made about the scope of exclusions and exemptions by the above reviews.”
Submissions remain open and the committee inquiry into the Bill continues.