The resignation of the Victorian Police Commissioner
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Monday, 20 June 2011

Image  This is the latest report in our section, Royal Commissions. This can be seen by clicking on the icon on the left on the frontpage, Royal Commissions. The section, Nile Electricity Inquiry Relevations is also relevant.




The resignation of the Victorian police commissioner is not one on which it would be appropriate for this column to comment.

Rather it is the reaction of the National newspaper, The Australian , which attracts our attention.  In its editorial " Overland exit shows case for royal commission " (17/1), the newspaper says that there is a need for Victorians to be given the more detailed answers than that which was given by former police commissioner Overland.

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[ Attempt to force Mme Petrova to return to Moscow: just prior to the Petrov Royal Commission]

The editorial  ends with a call to the Premier to choose the next police Commissioner carefully and to  call immediately a Royal Commission to clear the air.



...not surprising...



 

The reaction of The Australian is not at all surprising.

 

(Continued below)

Royal Commissions have long enjoyed an important place in Australia, casting light into issues shrouded in darkness.  Republicans have attempted to get rid of royal commissions as part of their illicit  campaign to remove all symbols of the institution they despise.

But the natural reaction on matters of great significance where the truth must be found, even for a newspaper which has an abiding  belief in Australia eventually becoming a republic, is to call not for some enquiry but for the highest and most objective enquiry that it can imagine, a Royal Commission.

The link to the Crown stresses the Royal Commission is above politics and independent. The Australian Law Reform Commission in its 2010 report, Royal Commissions and Official Inquiries,  recommended that Royal Commissions be retained, and their name not be changed.  The Law Reform Commission gave two reasons for retaining Royal Commissions.

First, the term ‘Royal Commission’ is very well-known, which means that it is a clear way to communicate to the public the extraordinary nature of such an inquiry. Secondly, the title ‘Royal Commission’ is helpful in that it indicates how the highest form of public inquiry is established—namely by the Governor-General of Australia.

The Law Reform Commission says that it  is appropriate that "the Australian head of state should continue to be responsible for establishing the highest form of public inquiry in Australia".

The same principles apply in the states and territories.The fact is that the  Crown remains a pervasive and abiding institution in the Australian nation.  That is clearly the judgement of the Australian newspaper and indeed, of the Australian people.