Daniel Andrews’ Bold Gendarmes

According to its Blue Paper, Victoria Police’s strategies include: “A focus on continuous improvement, evaluation and evidence- and experience-based best practice sharing.”

This is not mere managerialist jargon. Look how the sleuthing capacities of Victoria Police have recently improved: after first insisting there were no African street gangs in Melbourne, Victorian police were later able to find them and agree that they were a problem. Continuous improvement in ferreting out crime is ongoing: Victoria Police have also been able to scrutinise the Facebook posts of Zoe Buhler, a private citizen in Ballarat, and detect in them evidence of her inciting a protest against one of the Andrews government’s COVID-19 lockdown directions.

This improvement in the detection of crime by Victoria Police compares favourably with the success of the Stasi in detecting thought crimes by citizens of East Germany. For it is very like a thought crime for which Ms Buhler was arrested and charged: incitement is an indictable offence and is committed upon completion of the inciting conduct, even if the incitement fails to persuade anyone to commit any offence. It can attract a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment.

Incitement is the perfect crime for politicians keen to crush dissent, and the perfect tool for their compliant police.
Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius has defended the officers who arrested and charged Zoe Buhler. He added police, like the virus, don’t discriminate.

However, there still needs to be quite a bit more continuous improvement in Victoria Police’s understanding of non-discriminatory policing.

In late August 2020, high profile Melbourne AFL celebrity Sam Newman used a social media post to call for a quarter of a million Melbourne residents to protest against the Stage Four lockdown. The police response? No handcuffs, no arrest – just a visit by VicPol officers and a reminder of the guidelines surrounding lockdown protests. Newman claimed his words were “hyperbole” and cancelled his call to protest. He added on Facebook that the “very pleasant” officers “left a sheet with the official guidelines”.

In her social media post a day or so after Newman’s tweet, Zoe Buhler called for a peaceful protest in Ballarat against the same stage four lockdowns that attracted Newman’s interest. She too received a visit from Victoria Police. She didn’t admit to hyperbole but told them she didn’t realise she was doing anything wrong and offered to delete the post. No courteous reminder of official lockdown guidelines for a nonentity like Buhler or acceptance of her offer to delete her offending post. Out came the handcuffs and her arrest — when heavily pregnant and in in front of her children no less — for incitement.

Buhler’s fate is now in the hands of the Victorian judiciary. She will face the Ballarat court on 25 January.

Only three of the organisers of the BLM protest that attracted thousands of marchers through Melbourne’s CBD last June were fined. No one, no inciter and no marcher, was arrested or prosecuted. The anti-lockdown demonstration by a few hundred protesters at Victoria Market the following September attracted a massive police presence that included the armoured black shirts of the Public Order Response Team. Some 74 arrests were made and 176 fines issued.

The virus may not discriminate. It’s quite a stretch to claim that Victoria Police don’t.

From 1981 to 1992, Douglas Drummond was Queensland’s Special Prosecutor following the Fitzgerald Inquiry, and subsequently a judge on the Federal Court of Australia, from which he retired in 2003

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Victorian police are to be commended for their “focus on continuous improvement”, just look at the results. It was certainly effective to reach out to Lawyer X when traditional policing methods were failing to end the mob war in Melbourne. Those who think that perverting the course of justice is wrong are just stick-in-the-muds who don’t see the benefits of “experience-based best practice.”
    And then there is the Pell case. Why wait around for someone to make an accusation when it is much more efficient to trawl for complaints. People aren’t mind readers, they need to be told what the police need and what their political masters want.
    Obviously in a progressive state like Victoria, it is important that politicians are provided with the best service from the police. Distractions like the red shirts affair shouldn’t get in the way of the important business of government. Differential policing, such as the contrast between management of progressive BLM protests and regressive lockdown protests, certainly keeps right politicians happy.
    Ah Victoria, beautiful one day, deeply corrupt the next.

  • Doubting Thomas

    To this peripatetic northerner, Victoria has never been beautiful. I recall in my mid-20s some 50 or so years ago working with a Victorian teacher who was an otherwise rather conservative individual just a little older than I. Apart from several teachers, I had never known any Victorians. What struck me as unusual was his almost visceral hatred of the Victoria Police that he believed to be irredeemably corrupt. While such views might have been normal for members of the criminal fraternity, this man had had no personal dealings with the police but believed that his was the general opinion of law-abiding Victorians at that time. If true then, nothing has changed.

  • en passant

    A couple of nights ago I watched a ‘bubblegum for the mind’ movie called “V for Vendetta”. The remarkable thing was it turned out to be a near documentary of “V for Dandemic Victoria”. Unfortunately, we do not have our ‘V” or Batman to fight back against the corrupt thugs running this state (though they have since been exonerated by our next State Governor and shown never to have been involved).

    Premier Macavity: Our Modern Political Hero of the Day …
    With apologies to Andrew Lloyd Webber & ‘Cats’.

    Premier Macavity’s a mystery politician, he’s called the buffoons paws
    For he’s the deskbound hero who can defy all physical laws
    He’s the bafflement of common sense, the common man’s despair
    For when they’re in the thick of Covid Macavity’s not there!
    Premier Macavity! There’s no one like Macavity
    He’s broken every physics law, he can break the law of gravity
    His powers of teleportation would make a wizard stare
    For when you reach the scene of an outbreak, Macavity’s not there!
    You may seek him in his office, you may look up in the air
    But I’ll tell you once and yet again that Macavity’s not there!
    Macavity’s a modern politician, he’s neither tall nor thin
    You’d know him if you saw him for his eyes are sunken in
    His brow is deeply lined in thought, his glasses are all chromed
    His dress is clean, with no hint of dirt as it is often combed
    He nods his head and proclaims: “I know which side to take!”
    But when you think ‘he’s here to help’ he turns into a snake.
    Premier Macavity! There’s no one like Macavity
    He’s a villain and a fake, a Pollie with no character or honesty.
    You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square
    But when the pandemic’s at its height, you can be sure Macavity’s not there!
    He’s outwardly respectable, but I know he hypes this trivial disease
    He’s locked up 6M people who cannot do as they please.
    Be assured that when the virus is at its very roughest
    When ten people have it that’s when the lockdown will be toughest
    When a single covid death occurs and people are in despair
    There’s the wonder of the thing, Premier Macavity’s not there!
    Premier Macavity! There’s no one like Macavity
    There never was a Pollie so practised in deceit and bureaucratic suavity
    He always has an alibi and one or two to spare
    Whenever people ask what he did Macavity wasn’t there!
    And they say that covid’s a threat, its deadliness is known
    For which Macavity collected accolades, but claims it can be shown
    Although it was his lockdown, he was the masterly Napoleonic man
    When it all went wrong, he still deserves his praise, because he knew nothing of the plan.
    Premier Macavity! There’s no one like Macavity
    He’s a very modern politician, with a ‘Doctorate in Dishonesty’
    You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square
    But when a mistake or blunder is discovered then Macavity!
    Macavity! Macavity! Macavity!
    When a blunder is discovered then Macavity was not there!
    Brave nurses who faced death, because they were willing to take risks and dare
    Are destroyed by a Premier Macavity, who claims he was NEVER there!

    This took just two hours to draft, but I hope it might stick in the reader’s mind every time they see another ‘Press Conference’ and ‘clarification’ by any senior police who model themselves on George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman in the hierarchy of tyrannical midgets, or by a Premier who was never there …

  • Doubting Thomas

    Wow, brilliant stuff, ep. Thanks, you’ve made my day.

  • Elizabeth Beare

    It takes money to fight these disgraceful abuses of police power as the Pell case showed.
    I hope Zoe has collected enough to free herself from false arrest and to compensate her for loss of her good name and the incredible stress VicPol caused her during her pregnancy. Her unborn baby should also be able to lay claims against VicPol should the bub turn out to have any number of medical issues that may have been caused by extreme maternal stress due to media attention as well as the initial police insult. It is likely Zoe’s blood pressure went through the roof during that. I found many years ago an insurance company were very keen indeed to buy me off with a small but interesting and extremely watertight concluding settlement concerning any future condition that might emerge in my utero bub post-birth when I was involved in a car accident during pregnancy. Also I would imagine Zoe might find herself getting recurrent PTSD.

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