Real Constitutional Reform after Fitzgerald: Still Waiting for Godot
Griffith Law Review, Vol. 18, No. 3, p. 596, 2009
University of Queensland TC Beirne School of Law Research Paper No. 10-06
26 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2010 Last revised: 3 Nov 2010
The Fitzgerald Inquiry, although initially focused upon matters such as maladministration and corruption, placed significant emphasis on the reform of Queensland's political and public administration system as a whole. It is therefore in relation to its practical impact within the context of that system that the Fitzgerald Report ought to be assessed. However, despite widespread support for the report's recommendations, recent events in Queensland concerning such matters as corruption, maladministration, lobbying, cronyism and secrecy suggest that the report has failed to deliver on its most basic objectives. This article argues that although the Fitzgerald Report drew attention to and sought to address systemic problems of various kinds, it has largely failed in its intentions because the changes that it proposed could not be sustained in the context of Queensland's existing constitutional framework and particular system of Westminster democracy, especially its high level of executive domination operating in the context of a unicameral parliament. The fact that so many of the Fitzgerald reforms were left to be sorted out by post-commission agencies working in such an environment means real reform has failed to flourish. Consequently, the Fitzgerald Report has met the same fate as so many other public inquiries into corruption in Australia, resulting in only minimal change to the way government is actually conducted. While as a result of the Fitzgerald Inquiry there has been widespread institutional restructuring in Queensland, the way of doing business in the state has hardly changed at all.
Keywords: Government, Accountability, Westminster, Executive Dictatorship, Corruption, Upper House, Fitzgerald
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