Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Nixon denies misleading bushfire commission -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: It's a meal that's still giving Victoria's former police commissioner
indigestion.

Today Christine Nixon was again summonsed to the Royal Commission into Victoria's bushfires to
explain why she dined out while the state burned and why she didn't tell the commission about the
pub meal with friends in her original statement.

There appears to be little support for Ms Nixon, who now heads the bushfire reconstruction effort,
with the current Police Commissioner saying he would have stayed at his post.

From Melbourne, Hamish Fitzsimmons reports.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS, REPORTER: Christine Nixon appeared at the Bushfire Royal Commission today to
clarify her original statement and evidence to the commission last week.

After that initial evidence she subsequently revealed she'd actually gone to a pub for a meal at
6:00 pm on Black Saturday, rather than home as her original statement said.

Today, counsel for the commission told Ms Nixon she has an obligation to tell the whole truth.

CHRISTINE NIXON, FORMER VICTORIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: I have no intention of trying to mislead
anybody. I have now said on a number of occasions that I came to give information to the commission
to help them with their work.

I didn't intend to mislead anybody. I didn't intend to misinform. That's not a practice I have.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: But counsel assisting the commission Rachel Doyle SC suggested the former
Police Commissioner omitted that she'd dined out and hadn't monitored the unfolding disaster
because she knew it would be embarrassing.

CHRISTINE NIXON: I totally disagree with that statement. I did not see them as relevant or
important to the work of this commission.

RACHEL DOYLE, COUNSEL ASSISTING THE COMMISSION: So you made a decision they were not relevant?

CHRISTINE NIXON: Counsel, that's just flippant.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: 173 people died in the fires and many in the emergency services worked around
the clock, including Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana, whose evidence preceded Christine
Nixon's today.

After starting at 6:00 am on Black Saturday, he dropped Ms Nixon home at 6:00 pm, had a break and
returned to work until after one the next morning.

STEPHEN FONTANA, VICTORIA POLICE: I also needed to clear my head. I'd been going for over 11 hours
non-stop and basically just needed to do some thinking 'cause I knew this is things really moving.
I was going to be in for the long haul.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Christine Nixon contradicted her previous evidence that she hadn't spoken to
Police and Emergency Services Minister Bob Cameron during the day.

She now says they spoke at least twice. Ms Nixon also took umbrage at the suggestion because
there'd been no calls or texts to and from her phone between 6:00 and 9:00 pm it had been turned
off.

RACHEL DOYLE: Do you understand that between six and nine many things came to the attention of
Victoria Police.

CHRISTINE NIXON: I do understand that and I have refreshed my memory since, but the notion of me
turning my phone off I think is a disgrace.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Ms Nixon says that if anyone needed to contact her she was available and one of
her former assistant commissioners agreed.

RACHEL DOYLE: You weren't given an instruction not to bother her or not to call her?

STEPHEN FONTANA: Certainly not. Can I make a comment that if I needed to contact her for any
particular advice or instruction there was no issue at any time throughout my career that - or
while she was a chief commissioner that I wouldn't do that.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: But that's about it for support from former colleagues.

The current Police Commissioner Simon Overland says leaving an emergency control centre is not
something he'd do in similar circumstances.

SIMON OVERLAND, VICTORIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: I would expect to be around and there. I would
ordinarily expect that it may well - and certainly during those critical periods, it would be me in
that role.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Then a deputy commissioner, Mr Overland says he returned from leave interstate
to help in the aftermath of the fires.

SIMON OVERLAND: It was actually getting advice not to. People were saying, "No, we've got it in
hand. It's all under control. You don't need to come back."

But I just felt given the enormity of what had happened, I couldn't in all conscience remain on
leave, so I voluntarily returned and I was back at work, I think, on the Tuesday.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Christine Nixon says she won't resign as head of the bushfires reconstruction
effort and has the qualified support of Premier John Brumby to stay.

Hamish Fitzsimmons, Lateline.