Lecture tells a cautionary tale of corruption

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The behind-the-scenes machinations of Queensland’s years of corruption will be the focus of the 2014 Ray Whitrod Memorial Lecture at Flinders University Victoria Square at 5pm on Tuesday, June 10.

Ray Whitrod, whose attempts to reform the Queensland police service were scotched by the Bjelke-Petersen government, will be the focus of the annual lecture that takes his name when author Matthew Condon presents Honest Ray: The political assassination of a police commissioner.

The undermining of Ray Whitrod and his replacement with the deeply corrupt and criminal Terry Lewis as police commissioner was one of the most sustained assaults on the State’s democratic institutions during the 1970s and 80s era of  Bjelke-Petersen rule.

Lewis’s rise to power and the resultant morphing of the role of the police with that of government is the subject of author Matthew Condon’s book Jacks and Jokers, the second in his trilogy on Queensland’s corruption and successor to Three Crooked Kings.

Professor Andrew Goldsmith, Director of Flinders University’s new Centre for Crime and Policy Research, which is hosting the lecture, said the Bjelke-Petersen era was the clearest of cautionary tales about the need for accountability and transparency in government as well as the importance of rigorously maintaining separation between the functions of government.

“ICACs and Royal Commissions are all about mopping up after the system has gone off the rails; what good government requires is strong mechanisms that prevent abuse and corruption from occurring in the first place,” Professor Goldsmith said.

“The fate of Ray Whitrod and the co-opting of the functions of the police by the Bjelke-Petersen government reminds us that honesty and integrity in public office are vulnerable, even in a society with apparently robust democratic institutions.”

You can register for the lecture online.

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