Commissioner biased against cop who stole fridge, court finds

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart.A Supreme Court judge has found Queensland’s top cop acted with bias in downgrading the duties of a regional senior sergeant who stole from charity and was accused of smuggling 20 slabs of beer into a dry Aboriginal community.
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Police Commissioner Ian Stewart has been embroiled in a long-running legal stoush with one-time Rockhampton Deputy District Officer, Senior Sergeant Bryan Kennedy, who he sacked on three counts of misconduct on February 16, 2011 when he was deputy commissioner.

That misconduct included allegations Senior Sergeant Kennedy ordered officers to deliver 20 cartons of beer to a dry Aboriginal community while he was officer-in-charge of the remote Doomadgee police station in 2007 and that he stole a fridge donated to a Mount Isa youth organisation in 2008, for use in his own home.

Mr Stewart also found Senior Sergeant Kennedy had engaged in a third instance of misconduct when he allowed a woman to wear his uniform and carry his loaded gun to a Christmas party when he was stationed at Doomadgee.

Senior Sergeant Kennedy appealed Mr Stewart’s decision in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, where only the finding of misconduct in relation to the theft of the fridge was upheld.

While lawyers for Mr Stewart argued Senior Sergeant Kennedy should be dismissed from the Queensland Police Service over the theft, the tribunal instead imposed a suspension of six months.

Mr Stewart unsuccessfully appealed the ruling.

Upon Senior Sergeant Kennedy’s return to the force, and under the instruction of Mr Stewart, he was relegated to a desk job, as communications room supervisor at the Rockhampton call centre.

Though his salary remained unchanged, the appointment was a deliberate one whereby his work would be highly supervised and he would be more accountable than in his previous role as deputy district officer.

Unhappy with his relegated role, Senior Sergeant Kennedy took it to the Review Commissioner, and finally to the Supreme Court of Queensland, accusing Mr Stewart of bias in appointing him to the supervised desk role.

On Friday, Justice Jean Dalton ruled in Senior Sergeant Kennedy’s favour, finding Mr Stewart’s repeated publicly aired views that the officer did not have the integrity to remain a member of the police force impacted his decision and constituted bias.

“Commissioner Stewart had made it clear in the press that he had no confidence in the applicant (Kennedy) and that if it were up to him, the applicant would have no place in the police force,” Justice Dalton said.

“The subject matter of the Review Commissioner’s recommendation in this case was the placement of an officer in a role deemed suitable because it provided supervision, and thus risk mitigation, in circumstances where the officer’s responsibility, honesty and willingness to abide by the law had been called into question. All these were matters about which Commissioner Stewart had firm views.

“A fair minded observer might well have apprehended that Commissioner Stewart might not bring an impartial mind to bear in performing the task.

“It seems to me he ought not to have performed the task but delegated it to somebody who could consider the matter with an independent mind.”

Justice Dalton said the decision where Senior Sergeant Kennedy was to be stationed should be undertaken again.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Mr Stewart declined to comment on what course of action would now be taken.

“The Queensland Police Service is considering the decision and the comments made by Her Honour Justice Dalton and it would be inappropriate to comment further,” the statement read.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said Mr Stewart had exercised “a clear error in judgement”.

The union funded Senior Sergeant Kennedy’s legal proceedings.

“A finding of apprehended bias against a senior government official’s decision making is of real and serious concern – it should not happen,” he said.

Mr Leavers said the decision about where Senior Sergeant Kennedy would be stationed should now go to an independent officer.

“This is yet to be resolved but at a very minimum this matter will be referred back to an officer that we hope does not have a personal, vested and biased interest in the matter as has been found,” Mr Leavers said.

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Trucks ready to help spread message

ToxFree regional manager Mark Perkins, Meander Valley mayor Craig Perkins and Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten launch the Garage Sale Trail. Picture: SCOTT GELSTONSIX Launceston garbage trucks have received a makeover as preparations gear up for the fifth annual Garage Sale Trail.
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The trucks were unveiled on Monday morning, each emblazoned with Garage Sale Trail logos and ready to spread the message to reduce, reuse and recycle to the masses.

The event encourages people to register their own garage sale, which then forms part of a “trail” in their community.

Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten welcomed the event as an innovative way of reducing landfill.

“We encourage people to get involved with a garage sale and to find out those items that maybe they’re not using and that they would just throw away, but for somebody else, that’s going to be their treasure,” Alderman van Zetten said.

“It’s really going to help us long term in our community.”

Meander Valley Mayor Craig Perkins said the event was a chance to build relationships within the community.

“It’s an opportunity for people to be able to go about selling their unwanted goods in a fun and exciting way and to bring the community together,” he said.

“You actually get to know your neighbours and you might end up swapping bits and pieces between each other.”

This year’s Garage Sale Trail will be held on October 24, with organisers hoping to improve on the 333 registered sales held for the state’s 2014 effort.

To register, visit 梧桐夜网garagesaletrail南京夜网419论坛.

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Thurlow’s strong season rewarded

Geelong’s Jackson Thurlow soars over Sydney’s Brandon Jack in Saturday’s win. For his efforts Jackson claimed the round 19 NAB Rising Star nomination. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
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MELBOURNE – When Geelong’s Jackson Thurlow suffered a lacerated kidney in the preseason he looked to teammate Tom Lonergan for inspiration.

But, it’s fellow defender Corey Enright he wants to emulate in the long term.

Thurlow was hospitalised for six days after copping a stray elbow to his midsection in an innocuous training incident last December.

The 21-year-old insists his injury was only “minor” in comparison, but it was serious enough to keep him from joining in full-contact training until April and for Lonergan to offer his protective guard.

He’s since recovered to play 15 games in a breakout season across half-back for the Cats and claim the round 19 NAB Rising Star nomination.

The Launceston product recently signed a new three-year contract extension and looks destined to fill Enright’s boots once the three-time premiership star retires.

“The way he (Enright) goes about his footy and the right times he chooses to leave his man and go third up is something I’m trying to base my game on,” Thurlow said.

“At the stage our footy club is at the moment it’s really important for the younger guys to keep pushing the older guys along. It just makes our footy club better.

“I grew up watching those guys play in premierships and to be now training and playing with them is really exciting, but it’s really fun as well.”

At 190cm, Thurlow has the versatility to play on different sized forwards, highlighted by his ability to defend both Sam Day and Brandon Matera against Gold Coast in Round 3.

“I’ve got to do a lot more research on smaller and taller type players because I could end up on both,” he said.

Thurlow gathered 18 disposals on Saturday night to help the Cats upset the Swans and mark Joel Selwood’s 200th game.

“Everyone really respects him and admires how he goes about his work,” he said of Selwood. “To hear the Geelong fans really get around Joel and us as a playing group is something that I’ll remember for the rest of my footy career.”

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Sacked after 62 years

THE Launceston City Council has defended its position in sacking an employee with 62 years of service amid heat from the Australian Services Union.
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The union claims that the decision to fire rural roads co-ordinator David Flynn for breaching safety protocols was made in a bid to avoid paying a full redundancy.

ASU Victoria-Tasmania organiser Kath Ryman said the union was calling on the council to reinstate Mr Flynn before undertaking a ‘‘fair investigation into safety procedures at council’’.

‘‘The problem is that council have failed to genuinely investigate and consider evidence that was provided by the ASU to show that the same practices that constituted David’s alleged safety breaches are commonly used practices across the organisation,’’ Ms Ryman said.

‘‘Despite some denial from council, we believe that a review of the rural roads crew recommended that David’s position as rural roads co-ordinator position be made redundant.’’

Launceston general manager Robert Dobryznski said he was unable to provide details of Mr Flynn’s termination, but that the council held a legal responsibility to ensure safe work practices.

‘‘The council also has a legal obligation to take decisive action – however difficult it may be in the circumstances – to address repeated instances of unsafe work practices, particularly when numerous attempts have been made to provide support and training,’’ Mr Dobryznski said.

‘‘While dismissal is extremely disappointing and a last resort, the potential for injury or loss of life of employees makes it imperative that safety standards are enforced.

‘‘In cases where we are forced to take this course of action, we follow a robust and procedurally fair process and the employee is provided with reasons behind the decision that has led to termination.’’

Ms Ryman said the decision was made on the back of a restructure of the council’s infrastructure services directorate, and that four redundancies were offered to employees in the Parks Services area.

‘‘These workers were given the option to apply for new, very similar positions, but the application process for these new positions required an unnecessary medical assessment to be undertaken,’’ she said.

‘‘Some of these workers had previous workplace injuries sustained during their years of dedicated service to council, so they reluctantly chose to take the redundancy, fearing council would discriminate and use the results of the medical assessment against them.’’

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Queues and cautions amid abundant snow

THIS season’s snow on Ben Lomond has been hailed as the best in a decade.
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Snow enthusiasts from across the state flocked to the mountain at the weekend to make the most of the perfect conditions.

But with the people came waiting lines across the park, whether it was for the shuttle bus up the mountain, in a queue on Jacobs Ladder or for the ski lifts.

With ski seasons differing each year, and this one being a particularly busy one, Ben Lomond Committee secretary Adrian Beswick said business operators did a good job of working with the crowds.

‘‘It’s certainly the best snow in about a decade … some spots on the mountain snow drifts have built up well over four metres,’’ Mr Beswick said.

‘‘The crowds have just been huge and on Saturday the cars were nearly as far back as the top of Jacob’s Ladder.

‘‘On occasions such as this weekend, all the stars just lined up and the businesses operators did such a fabulous job.’’

Alpine Enterprises operations manager David Goodfellow said it was good to see so many people on the mountain having a good time.

‘‘We’ve had some good weather and lots of good people up here,’’ Mr Goodfellow said.

‘‘The ski lifts have been going round and round and we just keep taking people up the mountain.’’

With more rain and cold conditions predicted in Launceston for the next few days, roads are set to be slippery and more dangerous than usual.

Road Safety Advisory Council chairman Jim Cox reminded the community to act sensibly on the roads.

‘‘The recent state of cold, wet, miserable weather is probably a good reminder that we need to drive to the conditions,’’ Mr Cox said.

‘‘The posted speed limit is a guide, it’s not a challenge and all motorists and all road users should be mindful of all others on the road.’’

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