NT chief minister refuses to clarify status of NT police commissioner’s position, amid reports he has been asked to resign – ABC News

NT chief minister refuses to clarify status of NT police commissioner's position, amid reports he has been asked to resign - ABC News

Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles has refused to clarify media reports that Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker has been asked to resign, stating several times that the commissioner is on leave.

On Saturday, sources told the ABC that Commissioner Chalker had been informed the NT government would ask him to take leave.

Today, Ms Fyles would not respond to questions about whether the commissioner still had the support of herself or her cabinet.

“The police commissioner is on leave and Deputy Commissioner Michael Murphy is acting,” Ms Fyles said.

“The police service have been advised of that.”

The chief minister was asked 11 times by journalists from various media outlets whether she had confidence in Commissioner Chalker, whether he had been asked to resign, what his future with the police force would look like and whether the public had a right to know what the situation was.

Ms Fyles repeatedly said the commissioner was on leave and that she would not be providing “commentary” on the issue.

“I have indicated to you that the commissioner is on leave and the deputy commissioner is acting, and I said I won’t be going into further details. I know that’s repetitive but that is all I’ll be saying,” she said.

Natasha Fyles has refused to clarify media reports about the status of the commissioner’s position. ()

As the chief minister continuously avoided answering direct questions, a reporter from Sky News put a 2016 election promise of openness and transparency to Ms Fyles.

“When it came to power in 2016, one of the key promises your government made was to be open and transparent with Territorians. How can you stand there and not give us a straight answer to a question about whether you asked Jamie Chalker to resign, and whether you have confidence in him, something as important as that, given the pledge your government made about being open and transparent with the community?” asked Sky’s Matt Cunningham.

“I’m not going into details, I have articulated what I am going to say on this matter and I won’t be providing ongoing commentary,” Ms Fyles replied.

When asked by the ABC what Commissioner Chalker’s position would be when his period of leave ended, Ms Fyles again said the commissioner was on leave.

“I know I am sounding very repetitive and it’s not intended to frustrate people but he is on leave,” Ms Fyles said.

“Michael Murphy is acting, a role he has fulfilled in the past. That has been provided to the NT police service, so they understand who the acting commissioner is, and I won’t be providing any further commentary.”

Police union calls for urgent clarity

In a statement released after Ms Fyles’s press conference, NT Police Association president Paul McCue said that media reports the commissioner had been asked to resign needed to be “urgently and directly” addressed.

“Chief Minister Fyles must address these reports directly, and clarify the situation immediately,” Mr McCue said.

“Every single day our members are faced with challenging, volatile, and dangerous situations, and the last thing they need is the added stress and uncertainty caused by rumours about the leadership.”

Paul McCue has urged the chief minister to provide clarity.()

When asked how the reports could impact morale within the police ranks, Ms Fyles said she would not be answering any more questions on the topic.

Mr McCue said it was a matter that could affect police morale.

“In the interests of our members, the community and Commissioner Chalker, the chief minister must demonstrate leadership on this issue, and confirm if Mr Chalker is to remain as commissioner of police,” Mr McCue said.

An internal broadcast was sent to NT Police members on Saturday night informing them of the acting commissioner arrangements.

The head of the NT Police media unit previously said the agency was “in the dark” about reports the commissioner had been asked to resign.()

On Sunday, NT Police media manager Maggie McKeown said the police force had not been provided any official notification from the government about reported changes to the commissioner’s role.

“We’ve had no official notification from government that that’s changed. So, at the moment for us, it’s business as usual, Commissioner Chalker is on leave,” Ms McKeown said.

“This was planned leave, over Easter. There’s nothing unusual. There’s nothing expedited about this leave.

“We’re in the dark. We have nothing. If you’ve got any questions, it’s probably better to ask the minister.”

The ABC has attempted to contact Commissioner Chalker.

Source: abc.net.au

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