The Guardian • Issue #2046

Queensland police under fire

Photo: Kgbo – (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has begun to restructure the Queensland Police Service (QPS) in an attempt to eradicate the “significant problem” of sexism, racism, and misogyny in the force.

The ALP government has promised to enact the 78 recommendations of the Domestic and Family Violence 2022 report. Judge Deborah Richards’ three-month Commission of Inquiry found that officers’ attitudes and biases to the public have impacted domestic violence policing and failed to support the victims.

In November 2022 Queensland’s Police Commissioner, Katarina Carroll, appointed Julie McKay, the Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Officer at Price Waterhouse Coopers, to overhaul the QPS. The Commissioner said McKay has had years of leadership and cultural reform experience. She has “worked with the United Nations in that area, and also worked with defence in that area.”

McKay “will look at the reforms that we’ve already started and the reforms that happen into the future and assist the organisation in that leadership, that cultural reform in the organisation,” Carroll said.

In her report Richards said: “Victim-survivors are turned away from stations and misidentified as perpetrators. Police … do not undertake investigations to the expected standard.”

Richards has recommended more training for police, more officers and more liaison officers for Domestic Violence (DV), First Nations, and LGBTI+ communities, and a number of independent police watchdogs.

“These will be nation-leading reforms … the commission of inquiry has put a spotlight on some dark places in the QPS, and … identified cultural issues going back decades.”

Secret recordings from inside the Brisbane city watch house revealed staff used racist slurs and sexist language. It comes on top of evidence of racist and sexist behaviour amongst officers, including senior officials.

Bullying, harassment, and abuse in the force were under-reported due to a culture of fear and silence among victims and witnesses. The report also criticised the investigative system in which the police investigate their own workmates, knowing the culture embedded in the QPS.

Queensland Police Union president, Ian Leavers, agreed with most of the recommendations except establishing an independent integrity unit. Instead, this should be done by the “Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC), which is a standing royal commission … and they have a role to play.” The discipline system is already “good” but only “maladministered.”

The CCC released a statement saying the success of this integrity unit would be “dependent on several factors,” which would “require all stakeholders to work effectively together.” Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman told ABC Radio Brisbane that she, the police commissioner, the premier, and the police minister, Mark Ryan, have taken responsibility for the report’s scathing findings. As the DV report concluded, this is “Not just a few bad apples.”

As well as this scathing report, in February 2023, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) revealed the contents of a briefing sent by the top command of the QPS to all officers. It instructed how police should report on those with certain “ideological beliefs” – socialists, Marxists, and critics of capitalism – should be considered as potential terrorists.

The ABC states that: “The memo describes the at-risk groups as conspiracy theorists, religious, social or political extremists, and sovereign citizens, as well as people with ideologies relating to capitalism, communism, socialism, or Marxism.” It is interesting that the far-right, Q-Anon and Trump-supporters are not considered to be a threat.

If officers encounter people with these “ideological beliefs,” the incident is to be recorded on police body cameras and the individual “flagged.” The footage will then be uploaded to a centralised database, where it will be viewed and analysed by high-level counter-terrorism officers.

This memorandum follows from the shooting of two police officers in the regional Queensland area of Wieambilla on 12th December 2022. Four police officers went to the property and were allegedly attacked by Gareth, Nathaniel, and Stacey Train dressed in military-style fatigues and armed with high-powered guns. The Trains were killed that night by a tactical police squad.

QPS officials initially claimed that the officers had been sent to the property to perform a “welfare check” on Nathaniel Train, after he was reported missing by relatives in NSW. The QPS concluded that it was a “religiously motivated terrorist attack” and that the culprits were influenced by an extremist Christian belief.

The QPS were working with the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) as part of their investigation. An FBI agent was allegedly present at the officers’ funeral. Criminal Justice and Criminologist, Terry Goldsworthy, questions the QPS calling the Wieambilla shooting a “terrorist attack,” as its intent was not to “try and influence a state.” Rather, it was “a deep hatred of the police.”

That Marxists and socialists are considered potential violent terrorists by the top police officers in Queensland is worrisome. What then of the state Labor government of Annastacia Palaszczuk, and the federal ALP government of Anthony Albanese?

On the back of its membership cards, the Australian Labor Party has: Communist Party members are forbidden to join the ALP. It raises the question of how deep does this fear of Marxists really go in the ALP and the QPS? Does it explain why in the past the Queensland police have allegedly failed to follow up on attacks on people, because of their Left-Wing beliefs?

The Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission website is at:

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