Melbourne: police association splits from Trades Hall after forum on police racism

July 5: THE police union has split from Victoria’s peak union body after a socialist group was allowed to hire a room at Trades Hall for a forum about police brutality and racism.

Police Association boss Greg Davies told The Age the 14-year relationship with the Victorian Trades Hall Council had broken down for a number of reasons, but that the Socialist Alternative forum was a significant factor.

”The Socialist Alternative – not an affiliated party with the Trades Hall Council – put posters up all over various shopping centres that screamed ‘police racism and violence’,” he said.

”They had four people who you could never say are friends of the police speaking at a public forum, and given such titles as ‘industry expert on police racism’. They put the boot into our members in a very one-sided public forum and we thought that was a bit rude, given that we’re paying substantial amounts in affiliation fees to Trades Hall Council.”

The union had demanded in the lead-up to the forum that it be cancelled, and Mr Davies said he was told it would be. But, the organisers objected and the meeting went ahead.

Among the speakers were Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre lawyer Tamar Hopkins, Aboriginal activist Robbie Thorpe, journalist and researcher into Australian deaths in custody Gerry Georgatos and anti-racism activist Louisa Bassini.

”There’s no doubt that there was a large body of people … already uncomfortable with the idea of police being aligned with the Trades Hall Council,” Mr Davies said.

Trades Hall Council secretary Brian Boyd said he was disappointed but not surprised by the police union’s decision.

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