16th January 2019

Amidst all the publicity about what the High Court has ruled as “reprehensible conduct” by Victoria Police a few other points should be made clear.
Firstly, the “reprehensible conduct” attributed by the Court to the whole organisation seems actually to be the responsibility of a few members – i.e. we should not condemn the whole body.
Secondly, the standard of conduct expected of the organisation’s members derives from the top; the standard is shown by example and precept, on a continuing basis. The organisation’s culture provides the setting in which certain conduct is either accepted or rejected.
So it might be seen – but must surely be condemned by all – that culturally the police could supinely turn a blind eye to the infamous Red Shirts Rort exposed by the media and then the Ombudsman over so many months, so long ago. There can be no excuse whatsoever for the police leadership to have done so little so late, about that particularly egregious abuse of public office.
Eventually, of course, action was taken; some minor players were publicly humiliated, arrested, processed and obvious charges seemed to be imminent. So much activity to so little purpose?
Then we had an election and then the dazzling spectacle of “reprehensible conduct” being brought before a Royal Commission. Have we forgotten the Reprehensible Red Shirts Rort? So much to look at that we might be forgiven for overlooking (or even forgetting?) that the principal culprits in that scandalous conduct have been shielded by police leaders.
Too little, too late, too slowly and too deferentially. What happened to the principle so strongly endorsed by the High Court – the principle that the police are there to uphold the law without fear or favour, malice or ill-will? What happened to equality before the law?
If the Royal Commission is to achieve anything of concrete value to Victorians it should inquire into how this defective culture came into existence, to apparently flourish, and to be supported from the very quarters which benefit from this Red Shirts Rort scandal.
The Community Advocacy Alliance has spoken out about this affair, and publicly urged that it be concluded promptly – preferably without the potential for bringing about several by-elections. There were, and are, few genuine complicating factors in reaching that conclusion.
There is a lack of will. Lack of will to take initial action, and lack of will carry out a sworn duty.
British folk talk of their “PC’s” with respect. In Victoria, PC seems to mean only “politically correct”. CAA contends there is far too much Victorian PC about, and too little attention being given to the reformation of our own Police Culture.