By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Fair Cop: Christine Nixon
By Christine Nixon with Jo Chandler (Victory Books, $36.99, softcover, 388 pages)
History will not be kind to Christine Nixon after she had achieved a milestone.
She was sworn in as the first female Chief Commissioner of Police in Australia, appointed to head Victoria Police on 23 April 2001.
At the time she was probably the most powerful woman in the country, but Fair Cop tells of a personal and professional journey that took her on a “rollercoaster of public life, from dizzy heights to the pits of excruciating humility”.
Her story has encountered terrorism and tragedy, corruption and camaraderies, ambition and aspiration. Reflecting on a journey deep into a man’s world, she describes the experiences that shaped her commitment to a model of policing as a community service.
She explores the challenges of managing a police force at a time of overwhelming cultural and social changes, clarifies the concealed tensions at the frontline of politics and policing and exposes the dynamics of a poisonous culture war within the “sometimes corrupt police ranks”.
However, the firestorm that ravaged Victoria on 7 February 2009 redefined her life, summoning her professional performance into the spotlight: “I would be compelled by my conscience and by a royal commission to evaluate my capacity and caliber as a leader, the vocation at the core of my professional life and my identity. I would be called to account publicly for the management philosophies I had devoted my career to developing”.
The state’s top cop headed the Victorian Bushfires Reconstruction and Recovery Authority to help ravaged communities recover and to rebuild. Instead, the blame game continues over her going to dinner, claiming she had “good people” on the ground.
That dinner has had “seismic repercussion” and “consumed my life, and threatened to consume my reputation, all I had worked for”. She describes the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission as the “worst kind of kangaroo court”.
This self-serving book is also a painful reminder of the value of the intangibles that hold society together.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.