Jack Rush QC To Lead Police Inquiry And Circumstances Of Carl Williams Death

Jack Rush QC To Lead Police Inquiry And Circumstances Of Carl Williams Death

Victoria Premier Ted Baillieu

Victoria Minister for Police Peter Ryan

Coalition Govt To Review Administration Of Victoria Police

Victor P Taffa

The Victorian Coalition Government has moved to establish a special inquiry into the administration of the senior command structure of Victoria Police.

Mr. Jack Rush QC, an eminent member of the Victorian Bar who served as Counsel Assisting the recent Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, has agreed to head the inquiry.

In particular, given recent events, Mr. Rush will inquire into and report on issues of the functions of the senior command level of Victoria Police.

The inquiry’s establishment was approved by Cabinet today.

The inquiry’s report will be tabled in Parliament shortly after its receipt by Government.

The Coalition Government is concerned at the apparent difficulties that exist at the command level of Victoria Police.

Recent Events:

The Coalition Government is concerned about the circumstances surrounding the events that took place within Police command last Friday, 6 May.

I first became aware of recent events concerning Sir Ken Jones during the afternoon of 6 May.

I was advised of these developments by the office of the Deputy Premier and Minister for Police, subsequent to the Chief Commissioner’s actions.

After discussing the matter with the Minister for Police, I sought advice from the Solicitor-General, Mr. Stephen McLeish SC, and my departmental secretary in relation to the circumstances surrounding the Chief Commissioner’s actions in relation to Sir Ken Jones on 6 May.

I sought this advice because there was some confusion and concern in the community that the actions of the Chief Commissioner may have been outside his powers or authority.

I am advised that it was open to the Chief Commissioner to take the actions he did concerning the Deputy Commissioner’s leave and to do so in the manner in which he did.

Meeting With Chief Commissioner:

On Saturday, the Chief Commissioner met with the Minister and me to provide an explanation of events concerning Sir Ken Jones.

The Chief Commissioner provided an account of recent events within Victoria Police’s management structure.

In addition, the Chief Commissioner indicated that he had made his decision in the best interests of the public administration of Victoria Police.

The Chief Commissioner assured us that his decisions regarding the events of 6 May had been made on a proper and substantive basis.

Given the status and seniority of a senior Victoria Police officer such as Deputy Commissioner Sir Ken Jones, I told the Chief Commissioner that the Government would have expected to be advised prior to such an important decision.

Special Inquiry:

The community has a legitimate expectation that Victoria Police is an effective and highly responsive force which adopts best-practice Policing methods.

Clearly, this has been a difficult period for Victoria Police command.

It is critical that Victoria Police command works together closely and effectively in order to protect the Victorian community and ensure proper administration of the Victorian Police force.

Accordingly, as noted above, the Coalition Government has decided to initiate a special inquiry into the structure, operations and administration of the senior command of Victoria Police.

The objective of this inquiry is to identify any shortcomings in that structure and position Victoria Police appropriately for the future.

Under section 52 of the Public Administration Act 2004 (Vic), I am able to direct the establishment of a special inquiry into any matter relating to a public service body, a public entity or a special body.

Under the provisions of a special inquiry under the Public Administration Act:

  • The person conducting the inquiry may enter any premises of a body that is the subject of the inquiry;
  • A person who is the subject of the inquiry is not excused from producing any document or answering any question at a special inquiry because the production of the document or the answering of the question is prohibited by or under any other Act;
  • A person or body may be represented at the inquiry by a legal practitioner or agent if the person conducting a special inquiry agrees;
  • The person conducting a special inquiry is not bound by the rules of evidence and may be informed of any matter in issue at the inquiry in any manner that he or she considers appropriate.

Under its terms of reference, the special inquiry will examine:

1. The effectiveness and functions of the senior structure of Victoria Police command.

2. The extent to which the senior command structures of Victoria Police provide the future capabilities to deliver best-practice policing.

3. The extent to which Victoria Police has the command management structures to deliver major IT and administrative functions.

A report on the conduct, findings and recommendations of the inquiry will be tabled in Parliament within 30 sitting days of its presentation to the Government.

Ombudsman’s Reports into Victoria Police statistics and the circumstances surrounding the death of Carl Williams

In addition, I have been advised by the Ombudsman that he is undertaking investigations into the management of Victoria Police statistics and the circumstances surrounding the death of Carl Williams, including the role of Corrections Victoria.

Given current circumstances, the Coalition Government is obliged to await the outcome and receipt of these two important reports before acting on any recommendations from the special inquiry.

Upon receipt of these reports, the Coalition Government will be in a position to take further action to ensure the administration of justice in Victoria is operating properly.

VIC Minister for Police Peter Ryan

VIC Minister for Police Peter Ryan