Report Of A Commission Of Inquiry Pursuant To Orders In Council: Dated 26 May 1987, 24 June 1987, 25 August 1988, 29 June 1989

As early as 1964 the National Hotel royal Commission had begun investigating official corruption in Queensland, though its terms of reference were so narrow that nothing of any substance was achieved.  While a similar fate may have befallen the 1987-1989 Fitzgerald Inquiry, a number of fortuitous circumstances dictated otherwise.  Phil Dickie, an investigative journalist with Brisbane’s Courier-Mail newspaper, had begun uncovering evidence of large-scale corruption by 1987, but it was Chris Masters’ expose on the ABC Four Corners program which attracted a ‘huge’ audience across the country which finally prompted action. With Premier Johannes Bjelke-Petersen absent, Acting Premier William (Bill) Gunn announced that an Inquiry would be held the very day after Masters’ program went to air. Its brief was to investigate prostitution, illegal gambling, drugs, police misconduct and payments to political parties. Headed by Gerald (Tony) Fitzgerald QC, the terms of reference were expanded to allow the Inquiry to subpoena suspects across a broad spectrum. One of them was Senior Sergeant Harry Burgess, who completely destroyed the government’s credibility after accepting indemnity. When Jack Herbert, bagman for the corrupt network known as ‘The Joke’, was arrested in London, the trail led to the highest echelon of government.  In the wake of the Inquiry, Police Commissioner Terence Lewis and four members of the Bjelke-Petersen government were among those sentenced to terms of imprisonment.


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