Just when you thought the NSW Police headquarters was a Ken Moroney-free zone, the former police commissioner is back. He has been appointed as a consultant to run courses in leadership training. Most of the citizenry would be happier if the coppers were given courses in working for their wages and catching crims, but that’s another matter.

Moroney was and remains a Labor Government favorite. As “Uncle Ken” he was wheeled out at the state elections in 2003 and 2007 to give enthusiastic support for the government’s “lawn order” credentials.

He took the job in 2002 which came with a handy salary of $340,000 plus other expenses — about $100,000 more than the premier. When he left after the 2007 election, he received an Order of Australia, an honorary doctorate from Charles Sturt University and a paid seat on the NSW Parole Authority.

After seemingly endless farewells, tribute dinners, police band and academy parades that would have done Dame Nellie proud, he handed over to Andrew Scipione. Yet for reasons that are yet unclear he has returned in triumph to HQ in a consultancy role with the backing of Les Tree, director-general of the Ministry for Police, and the ministry’s executive director, corporate services, Fran McPherson.

McPherson’s background is not in law enforcement but at the Department of Transport which she joined in 1974 just before the Wran Government came to office. She then held senior executive positions with the Roads and Traffic Authority, State Rail and RailCorp before being appointed to the Ministry for Police in 2005 when the Police Minister was Carl Scully.

The effect of Moroney returning to the cops has been twofold: it is seen as a professional slight to Scipione and it has given fresh life to the Moroney fan club which dominated the hierarchy for more than a decade.

Critics are also demanding to know: how much is he being paid per day? At the time of his retirement in August 2007, Moroney told The Daily Telegraph’s Roger Coombs that he and wife Bev were looking forward to returning to their local communities and renewing old friendships.

“And it’s also payback time for Bev and the family — time to make up to them for the time they gave up as I was building my career. I look forward to that.”

But Mrs Moroney has also kept one official link with the NSW police. She apparently remains patron of the NSW Mounted Police. When she steps down, the honorary position will fall to Commissioner Scipione’s wife, Joy.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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