Hans Lovejoy & Simeon Michaels
Queensland police minister Neil Roberts has defended allowing the state’s police officers to be hired by mining companies as private security.
The comments came after it was revealed that QLD police were recently hired by coal-seam gas (CSG) mining giant Arrow to guard the company at protests for approximately $111.10 per hour, per officer.
A large contingent of ‘special services’ officers – or SS officers – were present at the recent protest in Kerry, in south east QLD. Echonetdaily reported in January that a tense ten-day standoff ended with a symbolic protest by farmers throwing their Akubras under CSG trucks leaving the area.
Conflict of interest?
‘I do not accept that there was any conflict of interest in police officers performing special services at the recent CSG protests at Kerry,’ MP Neil Roberts told Echonetdaily.
‘At all times police officers are subject to the direction of the commissioner of police. Officers never become the employees of the person or organisation paying for special service duties. All officers work to uphold the laws of the state and do so without fear or favour.’
MP Roberts echoed the statement issued by the QLD police media unit on January 27, which explained, ‘special services is a user-pays arrangement for events which require police attendance over and above ordinary policing response.’
The statement claims the SS is ‘appropriate in certain circumstances’ and that ‘Officers on specials do not take instruction from the organisation that has paid for the specials’.
The police media unit also says the service ‘manages thousands of protests each year’.
MP Roberts said that officers were dispatched to Kerry, ‘to ensure there were no breaches of the peace or trespassing at the site’.
‘When it became obvious that the need for police to be present at the site was outside of the ordinary course of police business, additional officers were brought in on “specials”.’
The question of how the public can distinguish between an officer on duty and an officer on special services was not answered by the minister. Both are armed and in the same uniform.
Arrow Energy is owned 50/50 by PetroChina and Royal Dutch Shell.