Committee bans submission

by Chris Griffith
Written mid 1994


my face


A Queensland academic yesterday expressed her dismay at a parliamentary committee's decision to ban her submission from its deliberations on the future of the Criminal Justice Commission.

In April the Parliamentary Criminal Justice Committee - responsible for overviewing the CJC - advertised for public submissions as part of its three-year review of the CJC's functions and powers, and former Griffith University justice administration lecturer Ms Colleen Lewis responded with a 15-page submission in June.

However this month the committee wrote back to Ms Lewis, and returned her submission on the ground she intended publishing it in an academic journal.

Ms Lewis yesterday hit back, saying the committee had rejected her submission because it had strongly criticised the committee's inquiry into the leaking of the CJC's November monthly report.

The committee's letter to Ms Lewis said: "A submission cannot be withdrawn or altered without the knowledge and approval of the committee, nor may it or any portion of it be published or disclosed until the Legislative Assembly or committee authorises its publication.

"In the present circumstances, the committee has agreed to return your submission as it does not want to interfer in your post-graduate studies or academic research," it said.

That was August 9 - three days before the committee publicly released other submissions, making all - except Ms Lewis's - freely available for quotation in the media and elsewhere.

At last week's public hearing on the CJC's future, commission chairman Rob O'Regan, QC, asked committee chairman Ken Davies why Ms Lewis's submission could not now be accepted, and said he was "mystified" why Mr Davies had persisted with rejecting it.

Ms Lewis is a former university lecturer and author in justice administration and a former senior lecturer at the Queensland Police Academy. She has been researching Queensland criminal justice issues since 1989 and is completing a doctoral thesis on the CJC.

"To return mine three days before releasing publicly everybody else's is very disconcerting," she said yesterday. "I am a researcher with something positive to contribute to an important debate but have been denied the opportunity so far," she said.

The letter also asked Ms Lewis not to refer to "correspondence emanating from the PCJC" as "communication between a Parliamentary Committee and individuals or organisations is privileged and reference to such communication should be avoided".

This refers to letters between the committee and Brisbane lawyer Terry O'Gorman attached to Ms Lewis's submission. It is understood these letters deal with the treatment of former CJC staffers Marion Smith and Phil Dickie at the committee's April public hearing.

by Chris Griffith