Barilaro critic arrest emblematic of NSWPF Commissioner’s mismanagement

Barilaro critic arrest emblematic of NSWPF Commissioner’s mismanagement

In Mick Fuller’s fantasy world, political bloggers are “fixated” terrorists, cops are just “having a bad day” when they randomly assault indigenous people, rapists can be stopped by an app, smashing student protestors into the road is “reasonable force”, gay police officers have “loose morals” and should be harassed, and the solution to his officers’ herding of protestors into an enclosed train station while gassing them is (to paraphrase) to “get on a train”. He apparently saw no problem, bar those pesky ethics lawyers, with moonlighting as a private cop for the NRL while still on the job. This man and, for that matter, the force over which he presides are increasingly disconnected from reality. For this country’s safety, he must go.

The latest abuse of Mr Fuller’s department has been to send the Fixated Persons Unit (originally set up to deal with terrorists like Man Monis) to violently nick Kristo Langker, a producer for the fire-brand YouTube personality Jordan Shanks (of the YouTube channel friendlyjordies).

His crime? Twice asking Deputy Premier John Barilaro why he was suing Shanks for defamation over a series of controversial videos: the NSW DPP calls that “stalking with intent to cause fear of physical or mental harm”.

Langker stands accused of asking Mr Barilaro about the lawsuit at Macquarie University, as Shanks jumped menacingly around in a Luigi costume, and of asking similar questions of Barilaro outside the state funeral of Bob Fulton.

There is no evidence revealed so far that Mr Langker intended to “cause fear of physical or mental harm” by asking questions of Mr Barilaro, raising questions as to the basis on which he was charged. The behaviour alleged to constitute “stalking with intent to cause fear” on Mr Langker’s part resembles the typical scrum of mainstream tabloid journalism, which has not been criminalised in the past (and should, despite its trashiness, not be in any case).

Compare this still made by Mr Langker of Mr Barilaro after the Fulton funeral to a similar still of Nine’s Nick McKenzie scrumming disgraced Victorian MLC Adem Somyurek in August last year.

Langker (off-screen) spots Barilaro (centre) outside the state funeral of Bob Fulton. (friendlyjordies 2021)
Nick McKenzie (left) scrums disgraced MP Adem Somyurek (right) outside the latter’s house, circumstances which are much more intimidating than a chance encounter in public. (Nine 2020)

In the footage released by Shanks, Mr Barilaro does not say a word to or, for that matter, even seem to acknowledge Mr Langker’s presence. He does not at all appear distressed. He simply finishes his phone call, gets in the car, and drives off. By contrast, in McKenzie’s 60 Minutes piece, Mr Somyurek is uncomfortable with Mr McKenzie’s presence at his house, repeatedly asking McKenzie to leave saying they could meet later. Had Mr McKenzie made a second visit, would he be deemed to have “stalked” Mr Somyurek with intent? Surely not.

Even if one believes that Mr Shanks’ invective screeds about Mr Barilaro are unfunny and have become increasingly deranged (as I do), one must recognise that the violent and transparently politically motivated arrest of his producer is a deep abuse of office that must be unequivocally and viciously condemned by all who value freedom of expression.

It is seemingly clear that NSW Police Force are intent on abusing their public trust and powers to effectuate the private, selfish demands of a powerful Minister. Their role in this sleazy affair has denigrated their political independence and diverted their resources from genuine threats to the public. This incident will have a chilling effect on criticism of the Deputy Premier for it sends a clear message: If you dare denigrate the honour of the Minister for Thin Skins, Malicious Mick will send in the counter-terror goons.

It is an attack on the courts, being both a waste of the NSW judiciary’s limited time and resources but also being potentially contemptuous towards the Federal Court, who will hear Barilaro’s defamation proceedings, as it was so obviously done to intimidate Mr Shanks and his colleagues prior to the defamation trial and distract him from making a proper defence.

As such, this abuse of office places a dark grey, thundering cloud over the independence of the NSW Police and the DPP, whose judgement as politically independent officers of the law must – as with Mr Fuller’s other malfeasances as head of the constabulary – now be rigorously questioned.

The qualities, to use a generous term, Mr Fuller has displayed on the beat since his appointment as Commissioner in 2017 range from being a political lapdog to the Cabinet, as in this instance, to unreasonable callousness, as with the gassing of Central Station, to hatred, as with his own mishandling of claims of harassment of gay constables by their viciously homophobic supervisor, to outright incompetence, as most vividly demonstrated by his rape app brain fart earlier this year. On these grounds, he must go.

Further reading

“Just doing my job mate” from Media Watch (April 12 2010), ABC.

D Cool. 2021. “Cult of YouTube Personality: Thoughts on the FriendlyJordies Legal Saga” in The Big Smoke.

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