Misty on the pool deck

Life is about timing   15 August 2006

As WA Police officers gathered near the steps of Parliament House today they may have pondered why Police Minister John Kobelke was in California?

That was much of the reason an estimated 2500 people who turned up to protest the government’s position had their noses out of joint. They feel ignored by Mr Kobelke and the Carpenter Government.


Succeeding can be – as Woody Allen is purported to have said – just a matter of turning up. “80 per cent of success is showing up.”

The Minister made a poor decision going to San Francisco for the FINA World Masters Swimming Championships while underlings attended meetings with the WA Police Union about the Plod getting a pay rise.

While Labor’s Little Johnny was swanning around the pool deck trying to catch a glimpse of Misty Hyman, the State Labor Government was treating the WA Police Union with complete ignore in their quest for better pay and conditions.

Mr Kobelke had every right to attend the Masters because he is also Minister for Sport and Recreation. He also holds the portfolios of Water Resources and Community Safety.


While the Minister was away from Perth, it hardly rained so the lack of water in dams was an issue and Community Safety was in jeopardy on a number of fronts – kids were being bashed; older kids were getting killed in motor vehicles and travellers were in bother if they were leaving for anywhere from Heathrow – West Australians included.

The only portfolio held by the minister that had no real problems was Sport and Recreation.

Seeing men and women over 35 swimming, diving and playing water polo competitively could have waited, at least until Mr Kobelke conducted meaningful negotiations with the police.

Even if he listened to their demands and took the negotiations as far as time would allow, apologised that he had to go overseas and would talk to them again immediately on his return.

Perth is hosting the Masters in 2008 and it was relatively prudent that the Minister attend the championships but timing is important and his timing was off.

By leaving the negotiations to others and being immovable on 12.5 per cent over three years (as opposed to 20 per cent over two years which is the police position), he turned his back on the 5000 men and women of WA Police and they know it.

WA Police are expected to work for $22 an hour. Street sweepers, with the possible exception of Boy George, get that. Railway Transit Guards get that much.

There is a skills shortage in WA. Companies need more private security.

Police men and women will continue to leave the job in record numbers to fill these roles and there will be less chance of getting shot at, being given a belting outside a pub or having bottles thrown at them from outside a party on a Saturday night.

One aspect of the claim that has not received much publicity is that they don’t get workers’ compensation. What other job has more danger attached to it, more chance of getting injured while working?

Try this hypothetical: An on-duty copper interrupts a bank robbery and offers himself as hostage while the thieves allow 10 staff and customers to escape.

However, negotiations slow and the kidnappers play Russian roulette with the policeman a few times before he is either rescued or released.

Quite understandably, the guy loses it. His mental capacity is severely strained and he has to leave the WA Police.

He is on his own financially for the rest of his life.

Sound fair? Of course it isn’t.

So we live in a State that not only won’t pay police officers a fair wage, it won’t look after them if something goes wrong on the job.

It’s not fair. The government knows it and they should immediately do something about it.

The minister appears immovable on paying the police a fair amount.

But then, he left his heart in San Francisco.

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