Previous issues: Police State Blues.
I have previously suggested that there is a dangerous confluence of interest between the Herald Sun newspaper, the Liberal Party, and the Victoria Police association.
The events of the second half of 2011 showed just what the relationship between these three groups means for politics in the State of Victoria.
The Herald Sun acted as the mouth piece for a campaign to replace Police Commissioner Simon Overland with a Police officer more favourable to the Police Association, Ken Jones. The Office of Police Integrity recomended that any federal media enquiry should investigate the role the newspaper played in this affair.
The Police Association traded a softer line in it’s pay negotiations for the government’s acceptance of it’s preffered candidate for Police Commissioner.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Police, Liberal MP and former Police Officer Bill Tilley, conspired with Tristain Weston, a staffer to the Police Minister and police officer Tristain Weston. The Office of Police Integrity recomended criminal charges.
The Police Minister Chris Ryan, and Junion minister Bill Tilley, gave conflicting evidence too the Office of Police Integrity over whether the Police Minister was briefed on the conspiracy. It seems increasingly probable that the Police Minister at least knew about and tacitly approved of the campaign for control of the police force being waged by his subordinates.
The Age offers the best coverage of October’s scandal, with this article in parlicular.
The extraordinary role of the Herald Sun in the scandal is brilliantly documented by Andrew Crook in this article for Crikey.
We counted 89 articles — including 15 front pages — that were critical of the chief commissioner. By contrast — except in tangential stories about “police command” — not one story could be found that cast a negative light on the paper’s charge Sir Ken Jones. Some celebrated policing generally but on the key leadership issue there was rarely any equivocation .
The Office of Police Integrity Report into the conspiracy can be read in full here.
October saw scandal, November and December have been about good old fashioned repression.
On October 20 Police smashed the Occupy Melbourne gathering at city square.
For the next two months, Police pursue the protesters from park to park, issuing them with notices against gathering, having “things”, and just generally trying to get them to go away.
The strategy is one that is suprisingly similar to the tactics Police have boasted they are applying to motocycle clubs. Continuious and unremitting harassment.
On December 3 the protesters decided to mock the Police:
Being Police, they responded to being mocked in the usual way:
It’s been a scary few months to live in the state of Victoria. Police powers continue to grow at an alarming rate, the new government seems intent end the “touchy feely crap” pioneered by former commissioned Christine Nixon. Everything from equipment, to uniform and even the grooming standard is being “toughened”.
Meanwhile there seems little hope of reform in light of October’s scandal. The Liberal government needs the vote of every former Police officer who now holds a seat in Parliament, and they’re sure as hell not about to do anything to alienate their allies in the Herald Sun.