22nd March 2022

Melb. Age March 20/2022  False level of assurance.

Here we go again; the only corruption in town must be the coppers.

But in reality, it does not matter where you look; there is corruption everywhere in Victoria. Known as the State of Corruption, we need to focus on the Police because they investigate most of the complaints against themselves, an outrageous situation that must be stopped immediately.

How dare we have a system where; miscreants are investigated by their peers? It must be prevented because that is apparently the problem.

While we are looking at the Police investigating Police, we should also look at these professions,

  • The Judiciary,
  • Academia,
  • Medical Disciplines,
  • Scientific Disciplines,
  • The Armed Forces,
  • Politicians,
  • Clergy,

And all entities in the private, public and NFP sectors we deal with every day.

But somehow, Policing is the only profession where this process is vilified but paradoxically, they possess the best skill sets to undertake the task.

The reality, however, is that the entities, over time designed for this task, Police Ombudsman, Office of Police Integrity (OPI) and IBAC, have all failed because they were nothing more than name changes with most of the staff moving with the name (taking incompetence with them) and a bit of tinkering around the edges.

Doing the same thing today as you did yesterday and expecting a different result is the height of absurdity, but that’s what has happened.

The near-universal rules barring the use of Police investigators by these entities are a large part of the problem. These entities need the best investigators available, and bureaucrats are nowhere near up to standard.

Many Politicians and Bureaucrats think they know how Police think; Police, on the other hand, don’t think they know; they do.

Dealing with the article’s headline issue, Nicolo Gobbo, that matter has been and is currently being dealt with through the legal system. While there is no debate that some Police acted improperly and even criminally, what is often overlooked is that there was one Policeman who attempted to deal with the matter.

His career was terminated for his efforts. The then Deputy Police Commissioner, Sir Ken Jones, took the issues to a senior Jurist and then a Deputy Ombudsman. The failure of those he sought assistance from cost him his career for his efforts, and the Gobbo affair rolled on unchecked.

Incidentally, the support for Ken Jones amongst Police, both serving and former, was and remains very high. He is seen as a leader with integrity.

Arguably, the failure of the Judicial officer and the Deputy Ombudsman makes them as culpable as some of the other perpetrators exposed by the Royal Commission. But as we have learned, the focus is always on the Police, and these two responsible Officers’ failures were apparently not examined.

The other references in the article do not indicate a corrupt Police force but that there is corruption in Victoria Police, and only a fool would argue that there is not.

But guess what, corruption also exists in the other professions listed earlier.

Central to this piece are the comments attributed to Dr Maguire, the former Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland.

“The reality is if you make a complaint against a police officer, 98 per cent of cases are going to be investigated by another police officer. And the powers of IBAC [Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission] dealing with criminality is limited. What does this say about trust and confidence in policing itself?”

Well, Dr Maguire, it does not say all Police are corrupt and within the 18,000 members of the Victoria Police currently serving, and the many thousands of former Police who also served this State with honour and integrity, only a tiny proportion are or have been found to be corrupt. That says a lot about trust and confidence in policing itself.

Given their function in the community, they are remarkably uncorrupted as a group, which some of the other professions cannot lay claim to.

Additionally, Policing has been subjected over many years to more scrutiny, including external inquiries and Royal Commissions, than any of the other groups.

The lack of resources within IBAC is sighted as a significant issue. Still, a cursory look at IBAC shows that rather than not having sufficient resources, they have major management failures.

To emphasise the incompetence, recently, there has been wide publicity of the effort of IBAC in investigating Branch Stacking within the Australian Labour Party Victorian division. In private and public hearings, the use of expensive covert tactics and the application of the IBAC powers compelling witnesses was exercised, and no doubt many other resources were applied to this investigation.

The irony is that, albeit there is perhaps some criminality, the major victim was the Labour party itself, not the more general population of the State. Yes, you can try to argue that it impacted the governance of the State but nowhere near as severe as the suspension of the Democratic processes that have been suspended within the party by its own leaders.

Of course, a cynic may say that this whole IBAC investigation was to pull down power brokers within the party not aligned with the current executive of Government.

A Political power struggle with IBAC the weapon. What better way to quell your ‘frenemies’ than using IBAC. We are not suggesting this is true; only, it could be viewed that way. If it is true, then IBAC is complicit in corruption.

Now while the IBAC was ensconced in that investigation, a small matter of Slug-Gate reared into the light. A small business subjected to corrupt Government Officials put out of business to try to save a competitor that just happened to be owned and financed by the Government.

Forty-one people lost their jobs in a vain attempt to save the Government business gifted over twenty million dollars ($20m) that had operated for nine years without turning a profit once. The Victorian Auditor-General, who we would have thought was charged with making sure our taxes were not wantonly fritted away, turned a blind eye to what would appear to be a company operating while insolvent for close to nine years. But that is all ok; it was a Government-sponsored business.

What really shows up the incompetence or misguided management of IBAC is that the CAA offered the IBAC Commissioner the services of a number of ex-detectives with intimate knowledge of the Slug-Gate case Pro Bono.

They were prepared to work under whatever conditions and rules the Commissioner may apply. The IBAC Act provides the Commissioner power to accept the offer legally.

We suspect there are other (political) agendas at work, so the cries of insufficient IBAC resources should be treated as not worth the salt.

Perhaps it is not Politicly comfortable to have the corruption around the Slug-gate affair determined and aired. With a number of suspects closely aligned to the current Government, IBAC may not be looked on kindly exposing the rot.

Rather than always looking for how the Police can be further scrutinised, so-called experts could apply some effort to address corruption by preventing it.

They would instead prefer to work at promoting the cabal of corruption fighters to build their industry rather than address the more difficult prevention question.

It is a sad indictment on the media that they do not see this for what it is.