Chapter 23 Catharsis and reform: an Australian example of building institutional integrity following systemic corruption
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All jurisdictions must deal with and respond to the corrupt conduct of individual public officials from time to time. In the late 1980s, however, the Australian state of Queensland was confronted with institutional corruption on a vast scale. This chapter explores the ramifications of systemic corruption, particularly for the political system, and examines attempts to reform the broader public service in the periods before, during and immediately after a landmark inquiry which began with an investigation into police corruption before expanding to implicate the government and public service more broadly (known as the Fitzgerald Inquiry, after its commissioner, Tony Fitzgerald). This chapter argues that the inquiry not only had an immediate impact on Queensland’s government and its democratic institutions, but has had a cathartic influence on government in the state, with all subsequent administrations being defined by their response to the inquiry and the questions of institutional integrity it raised.

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