Big Mac

Victoria Police is standing by its controversial policy of letting uniformed officers scarf cut-price McDonald’s, despite Police Association chief Greg Davies insisting in a leaked email that “free” burgers were verboten.

In a swingeing email response to a former Upwey resident concerned about the optics of discount-enjoying police blocking access to the planned Tecoma site of the international conglomerate — obtained by Crikey — Davies blasts the insinuation police are effectively accepting McNugget-sized bribes to provide taxpayer-funded security. Police and protesters have been embroiled in a tense stand-off at Tecoma, with allegations of brutality and heavy handedness being hurled around like Big Mac pickles at a train roof.

Davies wrote:

“… McDonalds do not provide free food to Victorian police officers/our members. No-one is accepting bribes from anyone. The suggestion is as ludicrous as it is outrageous. Your assertion that our members receive a free gift is both wrong and offensive. In fact, your entire message is wrong and offensive and directed to the wrong organisation.”

But in a statement provided by Police Media last night, a spokesperson confirmed discounts are still being offered. It went on to ward off members of the plod thinking of snaffling a discount grease feast after hours:

“Some private organisations have a policy to provide a discount to police members who are in uniform …

“These discounts are not to be accepted by members in plain clothes or off duty, and members are not permitted to show their police identification to obtain a discount.”

The gnarled association head was responding to questions from the activist as to why the Police Association was not “following the lead of Trades Hall and supporting the community and local council wishes in Tecoma that there not be a McDonalds built there”:

“It’s common knowledge that McDonalds provide free food to members of the Police force. This isn’t a Ma and Pa bakery providing a pie and sauce to their local cop who they know by name, or the local pub feeding members of the CFA and Police forces protecting their town from bushfire, this is a multinational business providing free meals to the police association members at any time.”

While police might not receive “free” food, they can still tap discounts as high as 50% at participating outlets. As Crikey has reported, other chains like Subway also slash advertised prices if the fuzz get the mid-shift hungries for a foot-long chicken teriyaki.

Victoria Police cut ties with Trades Hall in 2012 after 14 years because cuddly Trotskyites Socialist Alternative had hired a room at Trades HQ to discuss police brutality. Association members routinely tangle with SA acolytes during cartoonish confrontations on picket lines including Tecoma and Occupy Melbourne.

Respected University of Melbourne academic and transnational corruption expert Les Holmes has slammed the fast food discounts, saying they could lead to perceptions of corruption. Holmes told Crikey the perks pose a “potential problem”.

“They should not be allowed to accept anything, they’re not paid that badly … it would be much clearer if there were rules saying ‘we don’t accept it’,” he said.

Elsewhere in the email, Davies isn’t shy about coming forward to defend his members on the site, who he says would prefer to be enforcing the law elsewhere:

“If you think that the community, or the police who are drawn from that community, want to see police on duty at this site, then you are wrong. Very wrong. I would have thought it would be evident to anyone that police would rather be serving the community in their usual roles but, because of the actions of some people, many are currently forced to uphold the law at this location rather than other locations.”

He tells the activist to stop pestering him at the Police Association email account:

“I suggest that, if you have further to say on the matter, you either correspond with the Chief Commissioner of Police or direct your angst towards the Victoria Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal, who were the body who authorised this development. In the meantime, may I suggest that if you want to send vitriolic hate-mail to someone, you at least get your facts right? It tends to make one appear very stupid when they get things so terribly wrong, and I am sure you are not a stupid person. I assure you there is no need to reply. Greg Davies.”

The Tecoma case will return to the Victorian Supreme Court on Monday, with the “Tecoma Eight” hoping a temporary injunction on blocking the site will be lifted. They have raised $30,000 to travel to McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago to protest the plans and are hoping to buy a full-page ad in the struggling Chicago Tribune to raise global awareness.