The 81st WA Police Union Annual Conference saw Delegates condemn the State Government for its treatment of police officers. WAPU 17 Day1032

Following months of negotiations, changes to the parameters and a paltry $1,000 pay offer, Members were furious and the motion backed this up.

In his opening address, WAPU President George Tilbury said in the lead up to the State Election, Labor promised to match the Liberal-National Government’s State Wages Policy, then set at 1.5 per cent per annum.

“In May, Mr McGowan changed the goalposts, offering Members a flat $1,000,” he said.

“Unlike some work groups, we were not given any warning of the change. During that time, we were in the midst of negotiations, if you can call them that, and were demanding an offer to take to our Members.

“The bureaucrats dragged their heels and by the time they came up with the offer, Mr McGowan and his Government changed the parameters for negotiation.

“Our Members have worked to rule, removed good will and rallied at Parliament House.

“They are incensed by how this new Government has treated and disrespected them.”

Mr Tilbury also hit back at comments Premier Mark McGowan made about the Union’s leadership.

“This would never have happened to an affiliated union,” he said.

“I’m proud to say that I am the President of a union that truly stands up for its Members. We are staunchly independent and are not aligned with any other unions in this State.”

He also thanks Members for their support of the campaign for a fair and reasonable wage offer.

“You already put up with the lowest society has to offer, you meet people on the worst days of their lives, work extremely hard every day and you put your body on the line for our community,” he said.

“You deserve better. Thank you for supporting the various phases of our campaign. Your commitment certainly assisted the cause, as did the overwhelming community support. I also want to thank you for the strong turnout at our rally in August.”

Minister for Police Michelle Roberts officially opened the Annual Conference and discussed the impact the State’s crippling finances were having on the budget.

“It (the debt) has meant some really difficult decisions for our Government, the biggest of which is our Government Wages Policy,” Mrs Roberts said.

“The advice is we just can’t keep spending, we can’t continue the recurrent debt, and it is the recurrent debt, the year in, year out spending that is killing our budget.”

Mrs Roberts said the police budget had no allocation for additional police officers; it could not absorb the GROH rent increase; and there were no funds set aside for the meth taskforce.

“So whilst I was excited and indeed delighted to once again be your Police Minister, I was not at all happy with the situation that I’d inherited, a budget with big black holes and no money for necessary future programs and upgrades.”

The Minister said it was her personal priority to deliver a workers' compensation scheme for police officers.

Commissioner of Police Chris Dawson attended his first Annual Conference in his new role and was quick to clarify changes to the uniform as well as changes to allow police officers to grow beards.

“I want my officers to be safe on the frontline and I also want them to look smart and professional and wearing uniforms that are practical and recognisable,” he said.

The approved new issue police uniforms were on display at the Conference.

Mr Dawson said he was surprised that beards were so high up on the agenda of items people were seeking.

“If you are a slave to fashion, by March 1 you will be able to turn up to work with a beard but what I can say if you can’t grow a beard don’t bother,” he said.

“If you do want a beard, you will need to take three weeks’ leave, as we do not want people coming to work unshaven. There will be some requirements if you are attached to a specialist team requiring gas mask use.”

Mr Dawson also touched on the need for the WA Police Force to embrace technology and committed to roll out tablets in 2018.

“The fact that our force is the last force in Australia to roll out a smart device/tablet mobility program is not good,” he told Conference.

“I recently met with all Australasian Police Commissioners including those from New Zealand and I was very disappointed to learn that the WA Police Force is the last force to roll out smart devices and mobility tablets.

“One perverse benefit of us being last is that we can learn from what the others have done before us.”

Mr Dawson also announced that he had approved the introduction of AR-15 long arms to 100 ROG officers.

“We have not had a direct domestic terrorism attack in WA, that’s not to state that we can relax or not have vigilance about this.

As police officers you all know that our uniformed and detective staff are more than likely to be the first responders to any on shore attack in Western Australia,” he said.

By. Steven Glover