Wednesday, May 04, 2022

NT Police in turmoil over suspended cop who criticised commissioners over Rolfe case

Politically correct police leadership hits back at criticisms of itself. They breached their own guidelines by hounding officer Rolfe. They were prepared to throw a good officer to the wolves in order to placate Aborigines. The officer would not even have been charged if the deceased had been white

The Northern Territory Police Force is in turmoil after a veteran ­officer was “brutally” suspended for publicly criticising how his commissioners had treated constable ­Zachary Rolfe over the fatal shooting of Kumanjayi Walker.

Sergeant Mark Casey, who has served in the NT Police for 25 years, said he was “devastated” and “terrified” after being suspended without pay on Saturday for alleged “serious breaches of discipline” related to his “personal behaviour and public views”.

The suspension notice, signed by Assistant Commissioner ­Michael White, asserts that Sergeant Casey committed three breaches: improper conduct, personal use of social media and breach of the force’s code of conduct.

The 45-year-old from the digital forensic unit was suspended just hours after an opinion piece he wrote was published by local online news outlet NT Independent.

The article detailed “concerns” he held about the actions and ­“integrity” of NT Police executive members including Commissioner Jamie Chalker.

“This concern relates to the ­authoritarian management as a whole and specifically in relation to the charging of Constable Zach Rolfe,” he wrote.

“It is time for someone to stand-up and allow the discourse to happen, rather than sitting in fear, waiting for someone else to take action.”

Sergeant Casey said he had ­initially written the article “purely as a vent”, to privately process his growing frustration about how the Rolfe matter was handled, before deciding to have it published.

Sky News Darwin Bureau Chief Matt Cunningham says the ICAC is considering an “independent inquiry” into the… arrest of Constable Zachary Rolfe, after he was found not guilty for the murder of Kumanjayi Walker in 2019. “I think Michael Richards, the new ICAC commissioner…he’s made it clear that More
“I’d been speaking to quite a lot of police and they were all saying that something needs to be done but they were all too scared and fearful of the repercussions,” he said.

Sergeant Casey said he had ­expected to face disciplinary ­action for publishing his opinion piece. “I expected the intimidation and the bullying in response, but I underestimated how brutal it was going to be,” he said.

“I did initially feel relief (after publication) but being suspended without pay has been devastating.”

Suspending him without pay has incensed colleagues, who say the NT Police disciplinary system is unfair because other members – including senior officers – have been suspended on full pay while being investigated over more serious matters including alleged murder, rape and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Sergeant Casey, who has spent most of his policing career investigating fatal crashes, has never worked with or met Constable Rolfe, who in March was acquitted of all charges related to Walker’s death.

“He was by all accounts a competent, enthusiastic police officer and a good person,” Sergeant Casey wrote. “He has risked his life to save not one but two strangers from raging flood waters and risked his life to apprehend a violent criminal. If a police officer does the wrong thing, typically their colleagues will not support them, but in this case, everyone is supporting Zach.”

An internal police broadcast, sent to police members on Saturday night stated that the alleged breaches related to Sergeant Casey’s “personal behaviour and public views that do not align with the oath taken” when he joined the force more than two decades ago.

Sergeant Casey has seven days to respond to the suspension ­notice and is “very worried” about losing his job. “It’s not something that I wanted to do but I felt it needed to be done,” he said.

“The culture is that everyone is too scared to speak up and do the right thing. I think that’s a culture that needs to change.”

The matter is now being investigated internally by the ­professional standards command and has been referred to the NT ICAC and NT Ombudsman.

The NT Police Association said it “will provide ongoing support”.


Federal election 2022: Whipping up homeowner hysteria a risk for Labor

Aside from Anthony Albanese catching Covid, an interest rate rise was probably the next most predictable thing to have happened during the election campaign.

But Labor’s tactical decision to create hysteria around it and blame Scott Morrison for the ­central bank’s own failure to get ahead of the inflation curve early could just as easily backfire.

While the first rate rise in more than a decade – and the first in an election campaign since 2007 – may not appear to be good news for the Prime Minister or mortgagors, it’s not fantastic news for the Opposition Leader either.

And feverish predictions of doom around a return to a normalised rate settings could have the ­reverse effect of what Labor is seeking to achieve politically.

Labor Treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers discovered the potential for this type of self-harming overreach when he was forced to quickly retreat from his use of the “Morrison recession” in 2020 when describing the economic downturn during the pandemic.

This was laughed at in voter focus groups at the time.

The language Labor is now using in framing interest rates as the third pillar of a “triple ­whammy”, Morrison-inspired “crisis” has a similar potential to jar with people.

By elevating it as a key platform of attack, Albanese only draws ­attention to Labor’s own policy prescription. It invites a bigger question as to how Labor would do a better job.

The idea that somehow by electing a Labor government, interest rates would somehow stabilise is fanciful. And in the process of whipping up panic about it, the opposition may very well scare people away from Labor.

While some homeowners may well be anxious, with a cascade of further rate rises now on the ­horizon, most will be savvy enough to realise that an emergency cash rate of 0.1 per cent wasn’t going to last. The party had to end some time.

You’d have to have been living alone on a remote Pacific atoll to have been surprised by this.

The risk for Albanese is that fuelling anxieties will only add to an electoral fear of the unknown.

According to one Labor MP, it shouldn’t be forgotten that six of the seven most mortgage-heavy electorates are held by Labor.

If Morrison gets the language right, uncertainty over economic conditions could further expose Albanese’s small-target strategy which has left Labor without a comprehensive economic strategy of its own to deal with the ­problems on which it now seeks to capitalise.

But then again, this is all ­predicated on an assumption that the Coalition can carry the political argument.

Morrison is unlikely to try to steer away from this topic over the coming days in the belief that it is a good space for him to be in. The Prime Minister may not be popular, but Labor would wrongly assume that a lot of voters don’t give credit to the government for protecting their jobs and small businesses during the worst days of the pandemic. While Labor sees it as more grist for the mill in its attacks on Morrison personally, in doing so it draws attention to its own lack of remedial policy.

The Prime Minister on the other hand is trying to build a platform based on a sentiment that the government got Australians through the last crisis – so they will get them through the next.


Hidden traps of Labor’s housing plan revealed

The pitfalls of Labor’s scheme to help low income earners into their own home have been uncovered amid warnings future interest rate hikes could leave some with ‘negative equity’.

Homebuyers who use Labor’s shared equity housing scheme will be slugged with extra repayments to buy the government out if their household starts earning more than $120,000 per year.

The policy would mean low and middle income earners face extra cost of living pressure to cover the cost of their house if their wages increase — or dis-incentivise them to strive for a better salary.

Labor was under pressure to detail the $329m scheme in a media conference where Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese used the word “plan” more than 30 times but was not able to answer how much more money voters would have in their hip pockets under his plans for government.

Defending his “Help to Buy” strategy in the face of attacks from the government, Mr Albanese said it had been backed by a number of industry bodies.

He labelled criticism from the Prime Minister “desperate” and “extreme,” referencing a 2008 interview where Scott Morrison – then a new backbencher – labelled shared equity schemes a “good opportunity”.

The Labor leader passed most specific questions on the policy to his housing spokesman at a Tuesday news conference, but said he had a “comprehensive plan to assist people to buy” and a “comprehensive plan to increase supply”.

Labor also has a $100 million policy to increase emergency housing for women and children escaping domestic violence.

“This is a suite of measures which, taken together, will take pressure off people who are struggling with housing,” Mr Albanese said.

Opposition housing spokesman Jason Clare said the policy would help families “pass on their wealth to their kids rather than passing on nothing because they’re renting for the rest of their life”.

Revealing more detail about the housing plan, Mr Clare said that anyone who got a pay rise taking them above the eligibility threshold would have a two-year grace period, then face extra payments to buy out the government’s stake.

He said that would also apply to kids who want to inherit their parents’ home when they pass away.

Mr Clare said one in six people who have signed up to a similar scheme in Victoria have already bought out the government’s stake.

Mr Albanese was in the seat of Robertson, on the NSW Central Coast, spruiking his policy with 21 year old Lydia Pulley, who wants to get into the market.

The dental receptionist and student earns a combined $92,000 per year with her partner.

She said there was “no other option” for her to get into the market than Labor’s plan, although she did say that she would have to “look into” the strict rules which would prevent her from handing down her home to her kids.

The three bedroom home she rents in East Gosford for $550 a week is valued at $1.07 million according to Core Logic data, putting it above the price cap for Labor’s “Help to Buy” plan. She said she would likely have to move further away from her job to buy a house cheap enough.

Meanwhile, first home buyers have been warned that applying for loans under government guarantee schemes could put them at risk of negative equity if multiple interest rate rises see house prices fall.

It comes amid warnings of a house price correction if the cash rate continues to climb.

SQM Head of research Louis Christopher expressed concern for those using the 5 per cent deposit required for the existing First Home Guarantee scheme.

“I can see a situation where the Sydney or Melbourne housing market is going to correct by more than 5 per cent in this cycle,” Mr Christopher said.

Buyers considering Labor’s “Help to Buy” policy were delivered a similar warning.

The low deposit would leave borrowers vulnerable, RateCity research director Sally Tindall said.

“Property prices are expected to drop, potentially by up to 15 per cent in some areas over the next couple of years. Anyone with a 2 per cent deposit could fall into negative equity in the blink of an eye,” Ms Tindall said.

Those in negative equity may be unable to repay the bank if forced to sell their property, an outcome that will become more likely as costs rise with inflation.


Analysis: Rate rise was inevitable – but impact on the election is not

The Reserve Bank raising the cash rate will have some impact on the election, but not to the extent of 2007, writes Matthew Killoran.

Interest rates rising again were inevitable. They were at emergency levels for the pandemic and that emergency has passed.

But that doesn’t mean this was news Prime Minister Scott Morrison, or homeowners, wanted to hear less than three weeks before an election.

There are many people who will have purchased a home, at inflated prices, on earlier forecasts from the RBA that interest rates would not be raising until 2024.

But circumstances changed and interest rates went up and will again and again before the year is done, likely reaching 1.5 per cent.

With grocery prices on the rise, petrol prices edging back up despite the fuel excise cut, this is just one more pressure on the family budget.

The fact is, the are still at historically low rates and Dr Lowe said he had to move because the economy was doing well.

That will be cold comfort for many people. A generation of homeowners who have never experienced a rate rise are going to have to learn to tighten their belts in the coming months and years.




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