New WA Premier Mark McGowan says he will be “very professional” with the state’s long-serving police commissioner, despite a colleague threatening to replace him before Labor won the election.
Police Minister Michelle Roberts, who held the portfolio from 2001-2005 in the Gallop government, warned Karl O’Callaghan in February last year his time would be up after he said changes to the policing model hadn’t worked as he hoped.
“If Labor won the election, we would start a process immediately of selecting the next commissioner of police to have a smooth handover,” she told reporters at the time.
However Mr McGowan said on Thursday he would be “very professional with the police commissioner”.
“No doubt I’ll catch up with him soon,” the Labor leader said after handing Ms Roberts her old portfolio back.
She takes it from deputy WA Liberal leader Liza Harvey, who held onto her seat of Scarborough despite the party’s bloodbath loss.
Mr O’Callaghan’s contract expires in August, which will make him the longest- serving police commissioner in the post-war period.
The WA Police Union welcomed Ms Roberts’ appointment, with president George Tilbury saying he was looking forward to working with her to improve policing.
He said Mr McGowan committed to fixing police workers compensation issues and he expected a mutually beneficial scheme within the next 12 months.
The police union were vocal throughout the five week election campaign, asking for an additional 1000 officers in WA, which neither Labor or the Liberals committed to.
Mr O’Callaghan suggested an additional 500 officers and more funding for crime prevention services, which the union rejected in January.
Mr Tilbury reiterated on Thursday that an extra 500 officers was the bare minimum needed.
“I am sure that once the new Labor government is briefed by WA Police and gets an opportunity to interrogate the agency, they will see that we desperately need more police officers,” Mr Tilbury said.