NT Police Association president Paul McCue has sent a message to members saying it was clear they want a vote of confidence in Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker, and that the vote would happen in the “coming weeks”, but also took the opportunity to distance himself and the union executive from any involvement in the motions put from sub-branches for the confidence vote, which he is referring to as a “survey”.
Nine of the 12 regions have had motions from members from the floor during NTPA meetings asking for a vote of confidence in the commissioner, the only branches who have not are those representing the Commissioner, police auxiliaries, and Aboriginal community police officers, with at least 450 officers out of about 1660 having supported motions for the vote.
“Much of the commentary in the public domain has been completely inaccurate and misleading, as has some of the comments directed towards to the NTPA executive as the driver of the motion,” the message said.
Mr McCue said while they were waiting on the finalisation of some regional meetings, it was clear the members wanted a “survey” on the issue which would require engaging a facilitator and that he envisaged the survey of all members across the Territory would be conducted in the “coming weeks”.
He also said he had personally notified Mr Chalker about the “survey”.
“The NTPA executive have allowed, through time, members to put forward their motions to determine if this is a widely and deeply felt issue, without interference of public commentary,” he said.
“It is not up to the NTPA executive to interfere in that process, and we attend regional meetings where possible to prove leadership and understanding of possible outcomes in the event any motion is carried.
“Not all members will agree with what is being proposed, however it is the industrial right as part of the association that such a request can be put forward, and members can choose to participate or not.”
Mr Chalker was this week asked in Budget Estimates if his position was untenable, but he said a “silent majority” supported him, and responded that it was “heartbreaking” for him to deal with “mistruths” and “disgusting commentary” in the media, including in his involvement in the Constable Zach Rolfe murder charge and how he hoped the truth would come out after unnamed “internal processes” were over.
Mr McCue said on Wednesday that the media reporting on the confidence motions had been inaccurate but failed to detail how. He also said the union executive wanted to know the reasons for the lack of confidence in the Commissioner, which the “survey” will provide options for officers to explain.
The list will include the handling of the Constable Rolfe matter, the doubling of the attrition rate, low morale in the force, frivolous disciplinary action, and a perceived lack of action on officers’ well-being matters during a spate of officer suicides.
For some time Mr McCue has failed to respond to questions from the NT Independent about the no confidence motions at the branch meetings and criticism from members about his perceived lack of criticism of Mr Chalker on behalf of police officers.
The Office of the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Michael Riches is investigating alleged political interference in the charging of Constable Rolfe, something Mr Chalker and former chief minister Michael Gunner have repeatedly denied.