ACT Police Minister Joy Burch’s Chief of Staff Resigns Over Approach To Police

ACT Police Minister Joy Burch’s most senior adviser has quit after it was revealed she briefed a powerful construction union boss about a meeting between Ms Burch and the territory’s chief police officer.

Chief Police Officer Rudi Lammers sought a meeting with Chief Minister Andrew Barr on Tuesday afternoon and told Mr Barr police were investigating allegations of wrongdoing.

Mr Barr relayed the police concerns to Ms Burch, and a spokesman said on Tuesday night he understood her chief of staff, Maria Hawthorne, had now resigned.

Police issued a statement on Tuesday night saying, “As a result [the] media reporting, ACT Policing is evaluating the veracity of the allegations”. But they provided no other detail, and were not specific about the nature of the evaluation.

It is unclear whether it goes to the appropriateness of Ms Burch raising the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union’s concerns about police handling of freedom-of-entry rules in the first place, or whether it is restricted to the fact that Ms Hawthorne then briefed the union’s ACT secretary Dean Hall, a powerful figure in Labor’s left faction, about the contents of the meeting between Ms Burch and police.

Mr Barr said Ms Hawthorne had resigned “having regard to the public controversy”, the spokesman said.

“Whether or not to evaluate an allegation is the police’s prerogative, but as they have already said, the ACT government does not direct ACT Policing in relation to how it undertakes its operational activity, and has not done so on the occasion in question.

Read the full article in Canberra Times.

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