Time for Victoria Police leadership overhaul

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Time for Victoria Police leadership overhaul

Several episodes have rocked my confidence in how Victoria Police is conducting itself. The ‘‘perfect storm’’ described by Coroner Jacqui Hawkins leading to potentially preventable deaths in the Bourke Street Mall, the failed early apprehension of the murderer of Sisto Malaspina in the same place and now the ‘‘far-reaching and detrimental consequences’’ described by the Lawyer X Royal Commission of the use of police informants are all areas of serious concern.

This same force that was so visibly heavy-handed during lockdown somehow finds it difficult to protect Victorians from criminals and then resorts to illegal investigation methods that jeopardise previous convictions. Am I the only one to think that Victoria Police needs to have a good hard look at how it operates? It is time for a major overhaul to Victoria Police leadership.
Ian T. Jones, Elsternwick

History will repeat if root causes not revealed
Ruth Parker (‘‘Purana’s legacy is the loss of trust’’, 1/12) succinctly distils the ongoing issues associated with the police informant saga. ‘‘Police took the trust out of the legal system’’ and that mistakes can’t simply be assigned to the ‘‘historical bin’’ while there are any remnants of corrupt culture within Victoria Police.

Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton states there was a ‘‘profound failure by our organisation that must not, and will not, ever be repeated.’’ While these words are commendable, the Chief Commissioner has already asserted that no police member had a complete picture of the informer circumstances. This is eerily reminiscent of the state government playbook acceptance of the failures of the hotel quarantine fiasco while individuals were in effect shielded and distanced from responsibility.

History will surely be repeated if the root causes of corruption and incompetence are not fully unearthed and those responsible are not dealt with in a timely and effective manner.
Edward Combes, Wheelers Hill

Purana taskforce’s legacy in tatters
The Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants findings have, at long last, highlighted the shaky house of cards with which the Purana taskforce built its reputation. That is, from one lie – using Nicola Gobbo to alter ‘‘nasty crook’’ McGrath’s statement to bolster the police case against Carl Williams – a bigger lie of ‘‘the Informer 3838 saga grew’’ (‘‘The lie from which the scandal grew,’’ 1/12).

Notably, as with any lie that is spun often enough and when the chickens come home to roost, the instigators of the lie will attempt to justify their conduct by saying they were doing it for the right reasons.

The admission of their folly transpired ‘‘only now, with the entire, rotten mess exposed’’ and a conga line of the wrongfully imprisoned ‘‘queuing to get out of jail’’. The one ‘‘lie’’ that snowballed into a whopping lie of the ends justifies the means has ensured the Purana taskforce’s legacy is in tatters.
Jelena Rosic, Mornington

Decriminalising drugs needs to be considered
The Gobbo scandal lies within drugs not being decriminalised, allowing the failed war on drugs to continue just to placate the sensibilities of legislators. Aren’t drugs still being sold today in a lucrative trade run by violent criminals? The war on drugs corrupts the justice system and removing the criminals from the equation is pragmatic. Prosecuting police who had to deal with the societal mess created by inept legislators and drug lords isn’t the answer.
Des Files, Brunswick

Where are the lawyers?
Ruth Parker, criminal lawyer, asserts that ‘‘more than 100 police force members’’ were aware of Nicola Gobbo’s role in this debacle. This looks like a classic ‘‘Look over there’’. Surely there must be more than a few lawyers who should also have spoken out?
Peter Sheehan, Camberwell


Progress in jeopardy
Let us stop and think about the plight of the homeless who, due to the pandemic, have briefly had the dignity and safety of a proper roof over their heads (‘‘Homeless told, you have to leave’’, 1/12). Instead of jeopardising the remarkable progress made by people such as Painter, positive pathways would consolidate those gains.

A project in London asked homeless people how their lives could be transformed to fulfil their dreams. Their aspirations were modest and achievable and, a year later, none had returned to homelessness. Painter’s dream is for a safe home where her artistic talents can flourish, potentially enabling her to earn a living. She dreams only of the basics that most people take for granted.

Why won’t we prevent this debilitating cycle continuing when creative and humane solutions are at hand?
Barbara Chapman, Hawthorn

Where has kindness gone?
Zero cases in Melbourne, zero places for the homeless who have been unceremoniously chucked out onto the streets from their COVID-19 crisis accommodation. Whatever happened to kindness? It seems that lockdowns and locked ins didn’t teach us much after all.
Margaret Skeen, Point Lonsdale

Diplomacy failure
The release of Kylie Moore-Gilbert from Iran was achieved through quiet diplomatic channels while the Australia-China crisis deepens (‘‘Beijing digs in on war crimes’’, 1/12) in part, due to the use of megaphone diplomacy. As Donald Trump, the champion of megaphone diplomacy and megaphone destruction of US democracy, is slowly being dragged off the world stage perhaps politicians of all persuasions could stop acting like spoiled teenagers with a social media account and start using methods that solve international crises rather than inflame them.
Tony Devereux, Nunawading

Rethink on wine
I read with interest that our wine sector is worth about $45 billion to the Australian economy. That seems like a lot of alcohol. Maybe we’re looking at the wine rebuff from China the wrong way. Maybe, where economically feasible, we should be pulling out the vines and replacing them with another form of horticulture; a form of horticulture that produces edible products that can be processed for long term shelf life. When it comes down to it, we, and our Chinese neighbours, can get by without wine but we, and they, must have food. Or, as tough as it may be, we could get off our backsides and find new markets.
John Mosig, Kew

Stupid reaction
No one outside the US has ever taken Donald Trump’s tweets seriously. Yet when a minor functionary in China produces an outrageously silly tweet, the Australian government react with all the righteous indignation of guilty schoolchildren. A particularly stupid reaction that plays into China’s game.
Mike Francis, Fitzroy

Safety first
Jade Harward (‘‘Risking their lives for your takeaway’’, 1/12) is, sadly, correct that delivery riders are ‘‘often invisible’’. The main reason for this is, at least in my observation, that delivery riders insist on wearing black clothes, riding on bikes with no head or tail lights – or with the absolute legal minimum lighting – generally do not wear a reflective tabard and weave precariously on the roads as they check their GPS for the delivery address.

The physics of a collision doesn’t favour the rider so, while I sympathise with the plight of the delivery rider, the responsibility of safety rests solely with themselves and to ignore some basic personal protections is to invite tragedy.
Angus McLeod, Cremorne

Recipe for disaster
I’m hopeful the world community will take note and band together in solidarity against China’s bullying tactics against Australia. China relies heavily on the world buying its products to bring in the foreign currency it needs to improve its own standard of living so it needs to live in peace. Otherwise the Chinese leadership may find itself replaced from within.

Australia may have to learn to live with reduced exports to China and increased trade with the rest of the world and work on increased local manufacturing – though what we can manufacture is fairly limited – or imports from friendlier countries. Clearly relying as we do for something like 50 per cent of our exports to China is a recipe for disaster.
Dennis Whelan, Balwyn

Crimes against humanity
When China publicly holds an investigation into its crimes against humanity, such as its ‘‘re-education’’ camps for Uighers, or the Tiananmen Square incident and allows unfettered access and uncensored reporting by the world’s media and its own citizens then it can comment on alleged war crimes committed by Australian soldiers.
Anne Rutland, Brunswick West

Make the switch
Absolutely correct, John Mosig and Peter Barry (Letters, 1/12). One of the best ways to rapidly increase the uptake of electric vehicles is for all states and territories to follow Tasmania’s lead and commit to switching the entire government car fleet to EVs.

Not only would this have the immediate effect of reducing emissions and fleet management costs, the regular turnover of well maintained government fleet cars would ensure that a flourishing market for second hand EVs rapidly developed for people who want to reduce their carbon footprint but can’t afford a new EV. Dan Andrews, don’t tax EVs, buy them.
Helen Moss, Croydon

Unwanted advice
Should Britain and Australia be following former foreign minister Alexander Downer’s strident advice to get tough with China? Downer was an enthusiastic advocate for the invasion of Iraq. His support for the invasion of Afghanistan has led to Australia’s longest war and ‘‘possibly the most disgraceful episode in Australia’s military history’’ (Brereton report).

The man who made ‘‘the things that batter’’ a catchphrase in 1994 has consistently got it wrong when it comes to the things that matter. Based on his record Britain and Australia should not take his advice about China.
Peter Martina, Warrnambool

Matter of survival
If we take one thing away from dealing with COVID-19, it should be that all the talk in the world had absolutely no effect on whether we would succeed in our response. The only thing that counted was decisive action. A virus isn’t open to reason and doesn’t wait while you work out what to do. It’s simply a matter of survival.

China is placing us in a similar position. They can do without us, it seems, but we can’t do without them. They have thrown out the rule book.

Every industry dependent on exporting to China has been affected and thousands of Australians are praying the government finds a path through diplomacy and negotiation. It is notable however that China is still accepting our iron ore. Why are we letting them have it?

The other lesson from coronavirus, is that we can go without. We can adapt to reduced circumstances and we can survive. Let’s try and fight with the weapons we have. Stop giving China what it wants and playing by the rules.
Roger Hyland, Richmond

Outmanoeuvre the dragon
Taking China to task over the imposition of an unprecedented tariff on Australian wine, rejection of coal and other products through the World Trade Organisation is waving a red flag to the proverbial bull. China’s justice system does not recognise justice meted out by any country other than China.

Our government appears to have overlooked China’s January 2020 commitment to buy more produce from the US. Imposing tariffs on Australian goods paves the way for China taking more produce from the US at lower prices.

The government must urgently re-evaluate the way to deal with this crisis if it wants to avoid a further and deeper escalation of the trade war. If Australia is to salvage its trade links with China, the government must think outside the box of orthodoxy and outmanoeuvre the dragon.
Sue Bennett, Sunbury

Time for a lie-down
Australia does not trade with China. Australian companies (generally privately owned) trade with Chinese companies (generally state owned).

It’s called capitalism. And when the buyer/seller relationship breaks down, each will pursue their own interests and go elsewhere to seek a more profitable relationship.

Governments may open (and close) doors but the rest is bluster by politicians. The marketplace is remarkably effective and resilient so let’s all just have a nice cup of tea and a quiet lie-down.
Harry Onsman, Elsternwick

Platypus action call
The severe decline in platypus numbers in Victoria (‘‘Fires take toll on platypus numbers”, 1/12) resulting in Victoria’s Scientific Advisory Panel recommendation that they be listed as vulnerable to extinction is a warning that we are in danger of permanently losing the only monotreme of its type in the world.

The platypus, with its combination of mammalian, egg laying and duck-billed attributes is globally unique and important. The essential infrastructure supporting them, clean waterways and their food sources are increasingly destroyed, contaminated, polluted and redeployed for development.

The recent State Budget has no provision to help improve the condition of the platypus, yet owing to the complexity of its predicament, only targeted environmental and legislative policy can ensure that its habit is improved.

The state government inquiry into ecosystem decline needs to capture this issue and recommend urgent habitat improvements with set targets to increase their numbers in the wild.
Liz Burton, Camberwell



China trade dispute
The Chinese leadership is not bullying us, it is playing with us like a yo-yo on a string. The angrier and more irrational we get, the more interested they become.
Dennis Richards, Cockatoo

It would appear that Scotty from marketing has forgotten rule 101 of marketing: ‘‘don’t upset the buyer’’.
Les Anderson, Woodend

Barley, coal and wine – Morrison has certainly stopped the boats.
Stephen Baldwin, Frankston

Leave our iron ore in the ground for now and see how China squirms.
Tim Nolan, Brighton

If only Morrison got as angry about the findings of the Brereton report as he did about China’s poor attempt at an inflammatory tweet.
Shaun Brown, Docklands

Climate change
Our PM should join almost everyone else and jump on the climate action bus, destination wiser world.
Barbara Fraser, Burwood

Victoria, NSW and the ACT are leading the way with renewable energy zones. The Coalition is like King Canute waving a burning briquette against the tide.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

We are all aware that folk in the gig economy are more likely than most to be spreaders of COVID-19. And yet we see Qantas, likely putting 2000 people into that employment type.
John Groom, Bentleigh

Jobs, jobs, jobs, the federal government subsidises Qantas so that it can sack 2000 workers.
Corrado Tavella, Rosslyn Park, SA

I wonder what the evicted homeless think of Daniel Andrews’ announcement of a new art gallery. Perhaps they can sleep there overnight when the gallery’s closed.
David Cayzer, Clifton Hill

So nice to open the paper and see those Marvellous Melbourne photos. They remind us that we are so very lucky to live in this city, in this country.
Wendy Poulier, Ferntree Gully

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