CPDS Home Contact Professionalism: Chronological Summary

18 October 2005

Mr Terry Sweetman
Sunday Mail

I should like to provide a little feedback about the 1980s police culture of 'misconduct, inefficiency, incompetence and deficient leadership' that you referred to in a recent article.

My interpretation of your article: In these comfortable days it seems that corruption exposed by Fitzgerald was just a few naughty boys. But the police were badly corrupted. Not only were they not doing their jobs, they were covering for their political masters. The bent ones destroyed lives and shredded reputations. Their currency was fear, blackmail, intimidation and lies. The culture was built on contempt for criminal justice system, disregard of truth and abuse of authority. The force was disabled by misconduct, inefficiency, incompetence and deficient leadership. A culture of comradeship should not be confused with a culture of criminality (Sweetman T. 'The time I was saved by Bluey', Sunday Mail, 16/10/05)

I had the opportunity to work in a support role to senior staff in Queensland's central agencies in the 1970s, and had a fair amount of contact with the police system - which (like everything else in Queensland's administration was unsophisticated but generally dedicated). At that time a serious attempt was being made to develop Queensland's system of public administration - and a great deal of progress was made.

However from about 1978, there was a complete reversal when the role of central government agencies shifted to support for foreign (mainly Japanese) investors and no one took a great deal of subsequent interest in upgrading public administration. The result (I am fairly convinced) was the emergence of defective government machinery during the 1980s, including the growth of police corruption.

Pressure to do constructive things, which had previously been applied, ceased and this allowed mischief to grow. Some of this was undoubtedly deliberate, but most of it was probably simply the result of a lack of honest and demanding work to do.

The problem is that the post Fitzgerald 'reform' processes under the Goss Government (and its successors) spread the culture of 'misconduct, inefficiency, incompetence and deficient leadership' into the whole system of Queensland's public administration (eg see Reform of Queensland Institutions - or a Rising Tide of Public Hypocrisy?). Such features blossom in an environment in which there is no concern for more that a pretense of achievement which is sufficient for the political system to gain applause from the media.


John Craig