14th February 2020

An interesting field of prospective applicants is being rumoured for the top job in Victoria Police, and as interesting as the field is, the number being eliminated is like nothing that has been seen before. This may end up – last one standing.

The Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informers (RC) has potentially knocked out quite a few that could be serious candidates for the job of Chief Commissioner for Victoria.

One has been charged,  and in the Age, Feb 9th, under the title, Victoria Police misled High Court, Supreme Court over Gobbo, [i]reporting on the submission to the RC by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), alleging senior Police misleading the RC, the Supreme Court of Victoria and the High Court of Australia, has the potential to put a full stop on a number of aspirants.

These latest revelations support the long-held contention of the Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) that Police Command arguably operates with a contemptuous disregard for the law.

We would suggest that even the most strident advocates that argue that the Gobbo affair justifies the means must now be shifting their opinion, the community certainly has

This is now, not so much about Gobbo, but of how Victoria Police executives appear to operate outside the law. How can people at that level be so apparently arrogant to think that perverting the course of justice on a regular basis is going to end well?

On a separate note, the latest rumoured front-runner for the top job is a former Commander Sue Clifford-Clark who has been at the Justice Ministry since August 2019 and worked at Family Safety Victoria for two years before that.

That would be an interesting appointment as the former Commander has never been in a commissioner-level Police management role. Ms Clifford-Clark is alleged to have been a disciple of former Chief Commissioner Nixon The Black Saturday fires, QANTAS tickets and Lawyer X events have all cast a significant shadow over Ms Nixon’s judgment and her time as Chief Commissioner.

What also, and probably most critically, makes this an interesting consideration for the appointment, is the former Commander’s media acumen as reported by Caroline Wilson in the Melbourne Age, ‘The woman with footy’s hardest job’[ii]. Referring to Clifford-Clark in which Wilson refers to a train wreck interview. The train wreck interview has been well buried. We understand her disastrous interview came about as a result of trying to protect some St Kilda Footballers after allegations of inappropriate interactions with a minor. You can rest assured if it still exists, the media will likely expose that interview at some stage in the event that Ms Clifford-Clark becomes a strong contender.

The Commander’s career over the last two decades has seen her spending a good deal of that time outside of VicPol.

Having met Sue Clark, (as she was then known) her lecturing style and condescending approach was not endearing. That prolonged lecture/ meeting resulted in Clark having to write a letter of apology.

This Clark- Clifford approach was further highlighted in a blog by Kim Duthie, who was a victim of alleged indiscretions by AFL footballer/s. In her blog, ‘The small girl with a big voice,’ [iii] August 2011, she is also critical of Clark’s style and attitude to victims.

It is worth noting that Ms Clark-Clifford was also the author of the ‘Capability Plan’, for Victoria Police [iv]– a huge document that many have tried and failed to read in its entirety- at least War and Peace had a story. Ultimately destined as a draw filler, the Plan was more of a ‘navel-gazing’, exercise than an effective planning document that could be relied upon…

If the Government is serious about appointing Clark-Clifford to the top job, heaven forbid.

Then there is Assistant Commissioner (of a few months) Brett Curran, he seems to have a credibility deficit on social media from his former role as Chief of Staff to Daniel Andrews before returning to Victoria Police and was appointed to Chief of Staff to Ashton. He has trouble shaking his political associations. Curran was then promoted to Assitant Commissioner by Ashton in the twilight of Ashton’s career.

Although the precedent of these moves to Chief exist the last person who followed this path was Ken Lay who seemed to be a far more experienced and mature member.

[i] https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/victoria-police-misled-high-court-supreme-court-over-gobbo-dpp-alleges-20200209-p53z37.html

[ii] https://www.theage.com.au/sport/afl/the-woman-with-footys-hardest-job-20120302-1u8jf.html

[iii] http://kimduthie.blogspot.com/

[iv] https://www.police.vic.gov.au/capability-plan