Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews has raised eyebrows on two fronts, with his latest Assistant Commissioner appointment to Victoria Police. Andrews has appointed Commander Brett Curran to the position of Assistant Commissioner at the Gender Equality and Inclusion Command.
Firstly, at a time when the Victorian community is concerned more than ever with violent crime in the suburbs, why is a Gender Equality and Inclusion Command such an important priority?
Secondly, Brett Curren has previously been an advisor to Labor Police Minister Bob Cameron, beginning in 2007. He was then Andrews’ Chief of Staff while Andrews was Opposition leader in 2010-2014.
He returned to Victoria Police in 2015 as the chief of staff to Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, who was appointed to the position by the newly elected Premier Andrews.
The perception of this appointment is that the police and the government are becoming more intertwined, when the police force are expected to be apolitical. The position of Commissioner of Gender Equality and Inclusion is one created out of a political ideology to begin with.
It must be said that the Police Association of Victoria is not currently a fan of the Andrews’ Government, with its members threatening industrial action over the 2% pay increase they have been offered – they argue that, given their current responsibilities, they deserve a 4% pay rise.
Even more concerning is that when Curran worked as an advisor to Police Minister Cameron, the minister approved a $2.8-million taxpayer-funded payment to gangland lawyer-turned-police-informer Nicola Gobbo, also known as lawyer X right, before the 2010 state election.
There is a pending royal commission into how Gobbo was recruited and paid as a police informant in Victoria. It has been labelled the biggest legal scandal in Australia, as it violated, to the core, the fairness and ethics of our legal system.
Police Commissioner Ashton said of Commander Curran’s appointment, “with 31 years at Victoria Police, he is one of our longest-serving Commanders, with a proven ability to work through complex matters with skill and sound judgement”.
Victoria Police’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy
Ashton also spoke of the importance of Victoria Police achieving gender equality and inclusion: “Over the past five years, we have made great progress in driving cultural reforms across Victoria Police, but we know that an ongoing commitment is vital if we are to sustain the momentum, and I am confident that Brett will bring that focus”.
Victoria Police, in its diversity and inclusion information section, claims that “a diverse, inclusive and respectful workforce means we are better equipped to support one another and form stronger links with all communities”.
It has published a glossy Diversity and Inclusion Framework 2017-2020, with separate, more detailed strategy and action plans for gender equality; lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender-diverse, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) peoples; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) peoples; and peoples with disability.
Other Daniel Andrews Controversies
Daniel Andrews, at the end of the first year of his second four-term as Premier, is facing other controversies. He has admitted in the last 24 hours receiving a $2,500 donation from property developer John Woodman in his 2002 state election campaign.
Woodman has become the central focus of an Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission investigation over donations to some councillors at the City of Casey in Melbourne’s south-east. Andrews’ connections to Woodman were revealed when they dined together in 2017, which was alleged to be simply organising a golf charity day.
Andrews has also come under fire for signing up the state of Victoria to China’s global Belt and Road infrastructure project, at a time when the Communist dictatorship’s foreign interference and human rights abuses are increasingly in the spotlight. Andrews claimed signing up to the project was ‘the right thing to do’.
A protest against the Belt and Road project will be held outside Victoria’s Parliament House on Sunday 15th December, organised by concerned Victorians from all cultural backgrounds.
If recent history is anything to go by, however, Teflon Dan can possibly wash off these scandals. Only sustained media and political scrutiny will keep these new controversies in the public consciousness.