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Time to Go Christine Nixon

April 17, 2010

Time to Go Christine Nixon

Haircut, memoirs and then out to dinner

Symbolic leaders do not necessarily make good ones. That is a stark reality that has haunted to halls of power for generations. Often there is great applause when someone of particular symbolic group is given a great responsibility. We see this happen when women are made heads of state or elected to a board of directors. Unfortunately we can also have the examples of unqualified people being shifted into a position merely because they fit politically correct quotas. When selecting a candidate for a position of great responsibility I would suggest that it is much better to select the best qualified person for the job rather than trying to make some bold symbolic statement in electing someone who not up to the task.

On Black Saturday the state of Victoria was suffering its worst natural disaster in its history. Vast areas of the state were burning out of control as temperatures soared to the 46 degrees Celsius and the dry winds fanned the flames. Changing winds changed situations from dangerous to catastrophic as narrow lines of fire suddenly became a new wide front that would eventually consume town after town. The destruction was on an unimaginable level where 173 human lives were lost and thousands were left homeless. No other natural disaster in Australia’s history had killed so many people and destroyed so many homes. No other natural disaster required the full attention of our emergency services. No other disaster in Australia’s history needed to be examined to see what went wrong, how we can prevent it and whether everyone did their duty.

The question of whether anyone acted ‘above and beyond the call of duty’ is a worthy pursuit. Fire fighters, police officers, ambulance officers, hospital staff all put in the greatest effort to deal with something that few people could even imagine. Yet no one is trying to claim that Christine Nixon had acted ‘above and beyond her call of duty.’ Instead we have doubts over whether she performed her duty to the minimum that was expected of her.

The current Royal Commission into the Black Saturday Bushfires has left the reputation of Christine Nixon in tatters. After two separate days of giving evidence Christine Nixon who was Commissioner of the Victorian Police gave some startling revelations about her movements on Black Saturday.

So far she had admitted that:

1-She had a haircut.

2-At 1.30 she spent 45 minutes away from the control room working on her biography with a writer.

3-She went out to dinner with friend. Earlier she told the Royal Commission that she went straight home to monitor events.

4-Phone records show that she was neither contacted nor contacted anyone for a period 3 hours. The commission was forced to ask if in fact she had turned her mobile phone off for that period.

Here is Ms Nixon’s version of how she conducted herself:

”I had a haircut on the morning of February 7. It was a recurring appointment that I could have cancelled. At 9.30 that morning, I felt that I was able to keep the appointment knowing I was contactable through the hour and a half at the location.

”In the afternoon, as stated to the royal commission, between 1.30pm and 3pm, I returned from the State Emergency Response Co-ordination Centre to my office, where I continued to work on both personal and police business, as well as monitor the radio and the internet.

”The personal matter was a recurring commitment with a person assisting me with a biography. This meeting was cut short to around 45 minutes.”

Nixon’s claims the tired old line that people are picking on her because she is a woman:

”As a woman I have always been judged more harshly than some others, but I’ve understood that…”

Whether she was a woman or a man the facts speak for themselves. The state was burning people were dying and Christine Nixon did not grasp the reality of her roles and responsibility to be on duty visible and in charge. She was meant to be the person that was there to ensure that everything possible was being done. Instead, she went to the salon, worked on her biography and finally had a good and meal at a restaurant.

It is incomprehensible that the top person in the emergency services acted in such a manner. It is just as incomprehensible that she has been rewarded with the duty of the reconstruction of the Post Black Saturday disaster. Victoria deserved better on Black Saturday than have the Commissioner of Police carrying on as if it was just another day at the office. It demanded someone who would have not just done their duty but had acted ‘above and beyond their call of duty’. In this regard, Ms Nixon failed dismally and it is time that she was sacked from her current well-paid government job.


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