Newnham defends Blizzard

by Chris Griffith
Written 13 December 1992


my face


Former Police Commissioner Noel Newnham has described as "a charade" the appeal mechanism available to his former Deputy, David Blizzard, who has been sacked by new Commissioner Jim O'Sullivan

. Mr Newnham said the secrecy clause in senior Police Officer contracts was "out of date", warned about "sycophants" in the Police Service, and affirmed his belief in "democratic leadership".

He said it was important senior Police Officers pursue "healthy debate" because "often the decisions were so far reaching; it was important that as many conflicting views as possible were considered".

"The process that I just described -- I call it democratic leadership, sometimes leads to people being faced with a decision they find personally unpalatable," he said.

"David had to face that occasionally, and so did I. The last thing a Commissioner of Police wants is a lot of sycophants around him.

"The job's hard enough without everyone saying Yes Sir! No Sir! You are right, Sir! That's the worst thing that could happen."

Mr Blizzard has until tomorrow to lodge an Appeal against new Commissioner Jim O'Sullivan's decision to sack him. Mr Blizzard's fate will then be decided by the Governor in Council, a meeting of at least two Cabinet ministers and the Governor.

Mr Newnham said the appeal was "not likely to achieve a genuine second look at it. I think it's a charade." He described secrecy clauses in senior Police contracts as "normal, but it's poor".

"I believe the contract [secrecy] provisions are out of date", he said. "They're normal, sure! My own contract had a similar kind of provision in it, but I think we've gone beyond that."

"I think you need to distinguish between the debate that goes on in the process of policy formulation or decision making, and the back- stabbing, character assassination, the failure to enforce reasonable standards, and failure to adhere to those decisions and policies that are already decided.

"Now the latter clutch are quite destructive, and that's not the hallmark of Blizzard. The first clutch is desirable in most modern organisations at most times."

He said he was not surprised at Police Union secretary John O'Gorman's claim that the overwhelming number of calls received by the Union welcomed Mr Blizzard's sacking. "The Union won't get any calls in support of David Blizzard, because those who would do so would know they were wasting their time."