17th MAy 2019
It would seem VicPol is no longer an instrument of the people, but a tool of politicians, maybe not of the State parliament itself but, of self-promoting individual politicians; it is no longer a Police Force but a political Service, maybe to be known in future as PolServ?
Once upon a time, when television was not as polished at presenting news topics, that, widely-seen media had a real impact on public opinion. News-readers read the news headlines; reporters reported scene reports.
Now presenters may be directed by their supervisors or moguls, slant “news reports” to the degree they feel is important, or think is best.
To a considerable extent, the same happens in the huge areas of print media and the great mass believe these reports are true and absorb them.
The recent trend to “fake news” is mostly indistinguishable from genuine facts.
Maybe it’s been over the last thirty years, but on television and in the various media things have changed politically, and in many cases, not for the better.
Except perhaps at a major crime scene, former Chief Commissioner S.I. Miller was rarely seen on TV standing beside or behind Sir Rupert Hamer or Lindsay Thompson both outstanding Victorian Premiers or visually associating VICPOL with any other politician.
As with Mr Miller’s predecessor, Mr Reg Jackson and his successor Mr Kelvin Glare, they certainly did not publicly and obviously, appear in circumstances where they were seen to be aligned politically in any way at all.
They were not seen as “tacitly supporting” any politician, as far as we can recall. Absolutely not widely-seen and stage-managed or indications of implied support, political mate-ship or favouritism at all, appeared on TV or the print media during their tenures. Neither was there an apparent implication of master-and-servant relationship, or subservience, involving the CCP and politicians
Mr Miller was also known to say that he had his job to do, and politics had no part in that.
He recognised that his guide was the laws that parliament passed, and not personal intentions or directions of party politicians.
With the first apparently politically-appointed Chief Commissioner the picture became quite different, essentially overnight and has grown markedly sever since. Currently, there seems to be little, if any, of the essential and proper “separation of power” between VicServ and the State Government, and its various subsidiary departments.
Equally, the State Emergency Service members in the 1970s were very rarely seen on TV embedded with various police on any search.
VICSES was an entirely voluntary organisation, intended for the purposes of storm damage, floods and other similar civil disruptions, but VICSES appearances on TV did then imply to the great masses that VicServ owned the SES outright, and they were just another arm of VicServ.
Now those VICSES television appearances strongly suggest they are available for any situation on-demand by VicServ, which was not their original charter or intended purpose at all. Many times having the appearance of VicServ not getting their hands dirty leaving that for VICSES.
Thirty years ago on television there were no political party “noddy-dolls” or “eye-candy” and LGBTQI-faction had not been invented, all to stand behind the politicians implying that they totally agreed with what the politician had said – that yes, it was all a real winner, and everything was all totally correct and above board.
One offshoot of the current media-managed presentations is the clear indication that VicServ has (unwisely) become a political animal.
Last century working police were virtually prohibited from making any form of public comment.
During the periods of the last few CCP’s, senior VicServ management often appeared to elbow out other senior management, to get their own face on TV.
Now members of lower rank have been selected or left, to make public comment on police issues.
We now have comments referring to police activities made in printed media, where we find remarks such as “a spokesperson for VicServ, said today…”, without referencing the source, reliability, rank, position or Department.
In effect, this “spokesperson” is almost a captive journalist, used for commentary aimed to persuade the public to be for” and not” against” matters associated with VicServ.
Reality suffers, the complete truth is no longer a given; problems, therefore, tend to remain unsolved, and party politicians probably breathe a sigh of relief.
Times have changed, and it seems we have become inflicted with a horde of politically-angled “media spin doctors ” in what have become powerful positions, entirely un-elected but in a location to manipulate, manage, promote and direct their interpretations and political views.
What has brought on this loss of Police Management focus on the “separation of powers”?
A new media occupation has arisen, “political influencer”, and while itself it may be relatively new to VicServ, it coincides with excessive interaction for PR purposes between party politicians and Police Management.
Into this unhealthy situation has stepped the current CCP, whether willingly or otherwise.
Given a bout of sick leave, it would seem that the pressures resulting from public criticism of the political involvement has not been welcomed.
Spin doctors have a lot to answer for, but the great masses who avidly follow television are allowing the spin….. and mostly unknowingly and believingly absorbing those manipulated reports.
However, a slight and hesitant change has occurred – media appearances combining the CCP and the Minister have reduced somewhat, and now we may find that a VicServ Media person often appears to be interviewing the CCP, in a more controlled, directed aspect on a specific subject, seemingly uninfluenced, at least directly, by a political person.
Many of the CCPs remarks may still be a subject whitewash, but at least it is much less blatant than standing beside the Police Minister and letting a politician make VicServ statements.
Submitted by John Basham Senior Constable 15560 Police Veteran