Australia — The reappointment of Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan has been put on hold while the Corruption and Crime Commission investigates allegations he lied over his knowledge of the Perth Hills bushfire.
Premier Colin Barnett said he had full confidence in the Commissioner and intended to continue his contract when it expired in August.
“I think he’s a fine Commissioner and we want to reappoint him but that can’t be done while this inquiry is before the CCC,” Mr Barnett said. Advertisement: Story continues below
“So I would hope and I would urge that the CCC deal with these inquiries as soon as possible so the government can move on with the reappointment of Karl O’Callaghan.”
The CCC confirmed yesterday it was investigating whether Mr O’Callaghan gave false evidence to an inquiry into the destructive bushfire.
The corruption watchdog has reportedly obtained a police audio recording that raises doubts about his evidence to the inquiry.
Mr Barnett said he had not discussed the allegations with the Commissioner.
“I would restate that the government has full confidence and full support for Karl O’Callaghan as Police Commissioner,” he said.
“The allegations have been made but they’re unsubstantiated and unproven and that needs to be respected.
“When allegations are made (about) a senior person holding an office such as Police Commissioner, the CCC has no option but to inquire into them.
Mr O’Callaghan said yesterday he had spoken to police minister Rob Johnson, and had not been asked to step aside.
He said an assertion that even junior police officers were stood down pending the outcome of a CCC investigation was not correct.
The inquiry, headed by former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty, heard from Mr O’Callaghan that he was told of the fires during the afternoon of February 6 last year but was only informed of how serious the situation was around two hours later.
The fires destroyed 71 homes in the suburbs of Kelmscott and Roleystone.
When first told of the fires, Mr O’Callaghan was watching cricket at Perth’s WACA ground.
The Commissioner was later criticised for staying at the cricket and not immediately calling a meeting of the State Emergency Coordination Group, which was arranged for 6.30pm that day.