Commissioner treated unfairly: police union boss

Fraser Barton and Savannah Meacham |

The Qld police union says sexism wasn’t a factor in the departure of Commissioner Katarina Carroll.
The Qld police union says sexism wasn’t a factor in the departure of Commissioner Katarina Carroll.

The first woman to become Queensland Police Commissioner “no doubt” endured sexism, a state minister says.

The fallout over Katarina Carroll’s decision to stand down as top cop gathered momentum on Wednesday, with the police union boss claiming senior officers had treated her with “absolute contempt”.

The search for the next commissioner has begun after Ms Carroll on Tuesday announced she would walk away on March 1, months before her contract was set to expire.

She denied she was a “scapegoat” after ending escalating speculation about her future amid a youth crime outcry and reports of officer unrest.

However, Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said Ms Carroll had been treated unfairly.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers
Police union president Ian Leavers praised Ms Carroll as a “good-natured and “very caring”. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

“Perhaps if she was a man she wouldn’t get the attention from these other senior police who won’t do their job,” he told the Nine Network on Wednesday.

“Perhaps it’s because she’s a woman they’re treating her with an absolute contempt and I think that’s absolutely unfair.”

Ms Carroll stepped down after reports officers were disgruntled and fatigued by combating juvenile offenders and domestic violence.

Mr Leavers claimed officers had taken advantage of Ms Carroll.

“I’m not saying sexism but I would say this … I think she’s a very good-natured woman, she’s a very caring woman,” he said.

“I think they’ve just taken advantage of it. In previous times, I don’t think they would have had the open hostility towards her, and they would have performed their role as they should.”

However, Health Minister Shannon Fentiman said the 2022 royal commission into the police’s handling of domestic violence revealed there was sexism in the QPS.

“I have no doubt that she had experienced that (sexism),” she said of Ms Carroll.

The 2022 inquiry found misogyny, sexism and racism were a “significant problem” in the QPS.

Ms Carroll touched on the inquiry on Tuesday, saying there were bad eggs that had brought the QPS into disrepute.

“What I tried to get across is that there are people, a minority in my organisation, that have been racist and misogynist and sexist,” she said.

“But that is a minority. Predominantly the organisation is a great group of people.

“What the commission of inquiry did was really tarred everyone with the same brush and they were dark days for us.”

Mr Leavers said there was a disconnect between senior management and frontline police in the QPS.

“I don’t think there’s sexism because there’s a lot of policemen and women who are doing an outstanding job,” he said.

“But there are some in the senior ranks (that) just need to … get ahead with the times and start doing their job as they’re told to, and start connecting with the front line.”

Ms Fentiman led tributes for Ms Carroll on Wednesday, describing her as an “exemplary role model for young girls and women everywhere”.

“She has now made the decision that the time is right (to resign),” she said.

“I personally want to thank her for her leadership.”

Deputy Premier Cameron Dick said Ms Carroll had led the QPS with “great distinction”.

The government will take the next step toward replacing Ms Carroll when they meet on Thursday, with a decision to be made on whether they name an acting commissioner in the interim.