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What is misconduct?

Under the Crime and Misconduct Act 2001, ‘misconduct’ refers to official misconduct or police misconduct in the Queensland public sector, which includes:

  • state government departments
  • the Queensland Police Service
  • statutory authorities
  • government-owned corporations
  • universities
  • local governments
  • courts and prisons.

Official misconduct

As defined by s. 14 and 15 of the Act, official misconduct is conduct that involves the exercise of a person’s official powers in a way that is:

  • not honest or impartial; or
  • is a breach of the trust placed in the person as a public officer; or
  • involves a misuse of official information or material
  • constitutes a criminal offence or is serious enough to justify dismissal.

The conduct in question, if proven, must also amount to either a criminal offence or a disciplinary breach providing reasonable grounds for the person's dismissal.

Anyone who tries to corrupt a public sector officer can also be guilty of official misconduct if the matter involves a criminal offence.

Examples of official misconduct

  • A public servant cheating on travel allowances (because it could be a criminal offence and is dishonest)
  • A residential-care officer assaulting a client (because assault is a criminal offence and a breach of the trust)
  • A purchasing officer of a government department accepting ‘kickbacks’ in the tendering process (because it is a criminal offence and dishonest)
  • A public servant manipulating a selection panel decision to ensure that a relative gets the job (because the conduct in question could result in the dismissal of the officer concerned and lacks impartiality).

Police officers

As public sector officers, police are subject to the above rules regarding ‘official misconduct’.

Reflecting the high standards we expect of them, they are also subject to a broader set of rules regarding police misconduct.  

Elected officials

The performance of the official duties of a person elected to office could not amount to official misconduct unless the conduct could, if proven, amount to a criminal offence.

Government-owned corporations

Concerns about government-owned corporations (GOC) need to be reported directly to the GOC in the first instance.  The CMC cannot accept a complaint of official misconduct concerning a GOC unless the chief executive officer of the GOC notifies the CMC of suspected official misconduct or the Director-General from the Department of Treasury notifies the CMC that there are reasonable grounds to suspect official misconduct (under s. 156 of the Government Owned Corporations Act 1993). 

Last updated: 01 July 2013

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