The Corruption and Crime Commission today tabled its report ‘Report on WA Commissioner in Japan’ in State Parliament, which details a senior public servant’s pattern of corrupt behaviour and betrayal of trust that continued unchecked for at least a decade and cost Western Australian taxpayers in excess of $500,000. The total figure is unknown.
Mr Craig Steven Peacock represented the Western Australian Government in Tokyo, Japan –for 17 years. His employment as Commissioner for WA was terminated on 1 February 2019 for misconduct by the Director General of the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation (DJTSI).
Japan was WA’s largest export market for many years and has been our 2nd largest market since 2006-07. Part of Mr Peacock’s job was to arrange visits for Premiers, Ministers, parliamentary delegations and others, and he ran an office of locally engaged staff. He was a senior, trusted public servant employed by the Department of Premier and Cabinet (until 2017 when responsibility moved to DJTSI) and afforded great discretion.
The Commission’s report reveals how Mr Peacock used his role, his position of trust, the discretion afforded him – and limited supervision by his employer – to enrich himself, benefit his friends; and to cover up what could have been a career-ending drink-driving incident.
The Commission’s report covers:
- A decade of double-dipping on ‘cost of living allowance’ claims and payments (which Mr Peacock authorised) totalling nearly $500,000.
- Reimbursements for the cost of utilities and storage totalling $65,000, to which he was not entitled under his contract.
- Reimbursements for membership to the Tokyo branch of the Beefsteak and Burgundy Club, where he served for nearly 13 years as its chief wine master.
- Misuse of his official passport for travel to China to attend a convention of the Beefsteak and Burgundy Club.
- Non-payment of taxes in Australia or Japan since at least 2010.
- An unreported crash in a state-leased car while Mr Peacock was severely intoxicated after which he spent 48 hours in prison, was fined and disqualified from driving.
- Destroying a computer hard drive following a direction to bring his work computer to Perth.
- Doing favours for and wining and dining friends at the state's expense.
The Commission commends DJTSI for acting on the suspicion raised by a whistleblower. The Commission investigation, conducted with comprehensive assistance from DJTSI, has not been exhaustive. It focussed on a period of around two years which proved sufficient for the Commission to form an opinion of serious misconduct. The investigation also raises many questions about Mr Peacock’s dereliction over many years, including how his conduct went undetected by the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) for such a long time and the way in which the network of Commissioners is supervised and their financial accounts validated. Those questions are for others and the Public Sector Commission has been provided with a copy of the report.
Though some people spoke highly of Mr Peacocks’ helpfulness and competence in advancing the interests of the state – the public face for which he deserves credit – it is also apparent that in many ways over many years, he corruptly took advantage of his position. He is now paying the price. Taxation authorities in Japan and Australia may take an interest in his finances; he is jobless, without a Japanese visa and without prospects.
Public officers before setting out on the road of corruption, may be wise to consider where the journey ends.