Police oversight bill passes with missed opportunity to right a wrong on bugging scandal

With the passing of the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission, the Baird Government has failed to put an end to the long multi-million dollar disaster that is the Ombudsman’s investigation into Operation Prospect.

While the bill is a welcome step forward in establishing a single, well-resourced police oversight body and improving police accountability, a number of key Greens amendments were voted down by the Upper House.

The Greens and Shooters and Fishers were the only parties to support an amendment to terminate the Operation Prospect inquiry and prohibit the publication of any report or evidence gathered in this extremely flawed and unfair investigation.

With the NSW Crime Commission and others seeking an injunction of the Operation Prospect report being published due to concerns of gross procedural unfairness, millions more dollars of taxpayers money is now certain to be tied up in the courts in this long running scandal, together with ongoing dysfunction and division in NSW crime fighting agencies.

Greens MP Justice and Police Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“The Greens have been saying for years that we need a single, well-resourced police oversight body and welcome the establishment of the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.

“This is a crucial step forward in improving police accountability, but it is deeply disappointing to see that the failed practice of police investigating police will still be allowed to continue in critical incidences.

“It is a case of one step forward, one step back, with a the Baird government baulking at the most important reform that would remove the conflict of interest when police officers investigate themselves.

“This was also a missed opportunity for Parliament to fix the mistakes of the past and put an end to the Ombudsman’s report into the the disgraceful, and illegal, secret police bugging scandal.

“Operation Prospect has been a four year long multi-million dollar disaster that has torn at the integrity of some of the best and brightest police in NSW.

“After four long years Operation Prospect has already been overseen by two Ombudsmen, been the subject of two Parliamentary Inquiries, cost more than $10 million and interrogated reams of documents and scores of witnesses.

“The Ombudsman’s secret and behind-closed-doors investigation has been more concerned with targeting whistleblowers rather than producing accountability for the initial illegal bugging.

“By failing to act the Baird government has given the green light to years of division, distrust and litigation within NSW crime fighting agencies.

“Parliament created this monster and Parliament and has missed its opportunity kill it off before it causes any more damage.” Mr Shoebridge said.

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