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Thursday, 2 December 1976

Mr BRAITHWAITE (Dawson) -I would like to take up tonight a matter that was raised on the adjournment debate on 30 November in connection with the police force of Queensland. I regard this as not necessarily a matter of national debate but particularly a matter of State importance. I am glad to know that the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) is here. By inference, by omission, the honourable member indicated that the new Commissioner of Police in Queensland and the police force in Queensland are of a different standard to what has been accepted in the past in Queensland or in any other State.

Mr James - I worked there. Did you?

Mr BRAITHWAITE - I worked in Queensland. I just do not know for whom the honourable member ever worked. I take up the comment that some ofthe references made were based on the experience of 194S, some 32 years ago. The honourable member indicated that he found certain evidence of corruption in the force then because police in similar situation to himself were able to spend twice as much as he was able to do. I think this is an admission of something we know as fact. The honourable member is known for his actual meanness and therefore he is quite capable of spending half as much as anybody else.

Mr James - I think I can handle you.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!I will handle the honourable member for Hunter in a moment, too. I do not mean physically, either. I would be under a bit of a handicap. I mean the other way.

Mr BRAITHWAITE - Mention was also made of the same matter in the Senate on 16 November. There is no question about the integrity or honesty of ex-Commissioner Whitrod. I believe that by omission the honourable member was actually describing incoming Commissioner Lewis as a man of inferior capabilities. This I dispute. I think this allegation must be corrected for the whole police force. It has been mentioned by both Senator Colston and the honourable member for Hunter that there are grave consequences in this action; that it was a tragedy for the police and the people of Queensland because of the evilness which is present. I dispute all of these things. The incoming Commissioner has the support not only of the police, the rank and file, but also I believe of the people of Queensland themselves.

Commissioner Lewis, as he now is, is a man who has had quick promotion. He is 48 years or 49 years of age and people have held this against him. But people have held the Prime Ministership of this nation at a younger age. I do not believe that the Commissioner's age has anything to do with the capabilities that he will express. I think it is important that people in public debate should take cognisance of the fact that if their statements are ill made they can undermine the integrity ofthe police force as it exists at the moment. It can create suspicions and foster further divisions. The police force of any nation or State works under very grave and difficult situations. They are called upon to implement laws irrespective of whether the laws are good or bad. If we start pointing the finger of scorn in illconceived statements we can only further undermine the integrity of the police and the thoughts of the public on the police. I am not saying that the police of any State are not without their blemishes, but I think that politicians ought to look to themselves first before casting aspersions in any other direction.

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