Management of complaint of corruption against the Energy and Water Ombudsman

Purpose

The purpose of this procedure is to set out how Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ) will deal with a complaint of corrupt conduct against the Energy and Water Ombudsman (Ombudsman).

The Ombudsman is the public official of the Office of the Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ) within the meaning of the Crime and Corruption Act 2001 (CC Act).

Scope

This procedure applies to all permanent and temporary full-time, part-time employees and contractors of EWOQ.It is designed to assist EWOQ to:

  • Comply with s48A of the CC Act.
  • Promote public confidence in the way suspected corrupt conduct of the Ombudsman is dealt with (s34(c) CC Act).
  • Promote accountability, integrity and transparency in the way EWOQ deals with a complaint that is suspected to involve, or may involve, corrupt conduct of the Ombudsman.

This procedure applies:

  • if there are grounds to suspect that a complaint may involve corrupt conduct of the Ombudsman
  • to all persons who hold an appointment in, or are employees of, EWOQ.

Procedures

If a complaint may involve an allegation of corrupt conduct by the Energy and Water Ombudsman the complaint may be reported to:

  • the General Manager Strategy, Operations and Governance by phone 07 3807 9454, email cccliasisonofficer@ewoq.com.au or mail PO Box 3640, South Brisbane BC Qld 4101, or
  • a person to whom there is an obligation to report under an Act (this does not include an obligation imposed by s37, s38 and s39(1) of the CC Act).

If there is uncertainty about whether or not a complaint should be reported, EWOQ officers should err on the side of caution and report the conduct to the General Manager Strategy, Operations and Governance. If the General Manager Strategy, Operations and Governance reasonably suspects the complaint may involve corrupt conduct of the Ombudsman, the General Manager Strategy, Operations and Governance will:

  • notify the CCC of the complaint in accordance with the CC Act (provisions 38 and 39); and
  • deal with the complainant, subject to the CCC’s monitoring role, when -

If the Energy and Water Ombudsman receives a complaint directly and they reasonably suspect that the complaint may relate to corrupt conduct on their part, the Ombudsman must:

  • report the complaint to the General Manager Strategy, Operations and Governance as soon as practicable and may also notify the CCC; and
  • take no further action to deal with the complaint unless requested to do so by the General Manager Strategy, Operations and Governance in consultation with the Minister.
  • the General Manager Strategy, Operations and Governance is to deal with the complaint; and
  • the Ombudsman is to take no further action to deal with the complaint unless requested to do so by the General Manager Strategy, Operations and Governance in consultation with the Minister.

Confidentiality

The Ombudsman, the General Manager Strategy, Operations and Governance, and persons responsible for dealing with the complaint about corrupt conduct (including external investigators) have a duty to maintain confidentiality in relation to the complaint. The duty to maintain confidentiality extends to the identity of the person making the complaint, the person who is the subject of the complaint, and sometimes even the existence of the complaint.

Consideration will also need to be given to whether the complainant is making a public interest disclosure and is therefore subject to the provisions of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010. In particular, the following should be kept confidential:

  • The identity of the source of information (including the names of any disclosers).
  • The identity of those involved in the investigation including witnesses.
  • The nature and content of oral and documentary evidence gathered during the investigation.

Resourcing the General Manager Strategy, Operations and Governance

If pursuant to s40 or s46 of the CC Act, the General Manager Strategy, Operations and Governance has responsibility for dealing with the complaint:

  • The Energy and Water Ombudsman will ensure that sufficient resources are available to enable the General Manager Strategy, Operations and Governance to deal with the complaint appropriately, and
  • the General Manager Strategy, Operations and Governance will ensure that consultations, if any, for the purpose of securing resources sufficient to deal with the complaint appropriately are confidential and are not disclosed, other than to the CCC, without authorisation under a law of the Commonwealth or the State.

The General Manager Strategy, Operations and Governance must, at all times, use their best endeavours to act independently, impartially and fairly having regard to the:

  • purposes of the CC Act;
  • the importance of promoting public confidence in the way suspected corrupt conduct in EWOQ is dealt with.

Liaising with the CCC

The General Manager Strategy, Operations and Governance is to keep the CCC and the Ombudsman informed of:

  • the contact details for the Ombudsman and the General Manager Strategy, Operations and Governance; and
  • any proposed changes to this procedure.

Consulting with the CCC

The Energy and Water Ombudsman and the General Manager Strategy, Operations and Governance will consult with the CCC when preparing any procedure about how EWOQ will deal with a complaint that involves or may involve corrupt conduct of the Ombudsman.