The Royal Commission evidence for 9/6/1881
(see also introduction to day 28)
Insp William B. Montfort giving evidence
11052 Then that would not have a good effect on the general body of police as being contrary to regulation?— As being contrary to regulation and as creating a precedent, a thing never done before and being contrary to the expectations of a number that are aspirants for promotion.
11053 Before you leave I would ask you one question: you say you desire the troopers to be, in fact all the police in the North-Eastern district to be, armed with the Martini-Henry carbine?— Yes.
11054 Do you think it is of such importance that it would be desirable for the Commission to make a report to the Chief Secretary on that one subject?— I do decidedly; people up there, civilians, highly approve of the report they saw in the papers to the effect that the Commission were going to take that step.
11055 You think the sooner it is done the better?— Yes, and that it is the right thing.
11056 This is a copy of the Victorian police regulations, page 36, paragraph 263, “When a vacancy occurs in the higher grades of the force, and the duties of the vacant office are of such a nature that the Governor in Council shall be of opinion that there is no person of lower grade in the department who is competent to discharge them, the Governor in Council may appoint such person as he may think fit, although not previously engaged in the police force, and with or without examination or probation.” Do you think the time has arisen in the North-Eastern district in which an officer such as is there mentioned should be appointed by the Governor in Council for the purpose of taking charge of the black trackers?— Solely to take charge of the black trackers?
11057 That is the only reason, solely to be in charge of the black trackers?— I do not think so.
11058 I will repeat the question again; in your opinion has the occasion arisen in the North-Eastern district in which a departure should be made from the regulation in the police force to admit one who had not been previously in the force?— I do not think it is requisite for that purpose alone. With great respect, I would say that I am placed just in this position—I am given to understand that Mr. O'Connor's appointment has been proposed, or is about to be made by the Ministerial head of the department, on the recommendation of the permanent head of the department, and it is directly placing me as a subordinate in the position that I am criticising their acts, which I am very much averse to doing. I have no objection to give my opinion; I cannot help holding an opinion. For Mr. O'Connor, I need not tell you for a moment, I have a very great respect; but if you ask my opinion personally as regards whether I consider it would be absolutely indispensable in the present state of affairs to ignore the usage of the service, and incur the dangers arising from setting the police force in a state of ferment over it, I say I do not think the necessity is as great as would warrant the Government in doing anything of the sort, and that is what I mean. I have no personal objection at all to Mr. O'Connor's appointment, not the slightest; but if I am asked my opinion as to the effect on the morale of the force, I consider it will be very deleterious. I do not say the force have a right to have that feeling, but I know as a matter of fact it would have that effect.
11059 Outside the feeling of the force, has the necessity arisen in that district for the appointment of such a gentleman as Mr. O'Connor?— If you ask me as a matter of opinion I say I do not see that it has in reference to the present state of affairs. Of course in giving my opinion on this I do so with great reluctance, because I am placed in a position of antagonism to the Chief Commissioner, and likewise to the action of the Chief Secretary. I can only answer the questions I am asked as truthfully as I can; I have no objection to answer the questions so long as I am not misunderstood. I did not volunteer the information.
11060 How long does it take for a man to rise from the ranks to the position of sub-inspector?— It took me eighteen years, and then I was promoted by a fluke.
11061 Missing the fluke, how many years would it have taken?— I might have been in the ranks still, perhaps.
11062 Is it not better for a country like the Kelly country to have young active men there for officers?— Certainly. An officer old and crippled cannot knock about the district.
11063 Mr. Hare said he was too old for the work, he said so himself?— I am as old as Mr. Hare, and he may not be fit, but I am perfectly fit. I rode ninety miles the other day, and came back as well and better than when I started. The system in vogue in the Irish Constabulary is the system that I think is the best, as I said in the first part of my evidence; and that is the Government are in the habit of appointing cadets by competitive examination when vacancies occur. At the same time they promote certain head constables, who are reported upon favorably by their country inspectors, to the position of sub-inspectors. Therefore it is not alone that men can rise from the ranks, but there is also the infusion of new blood through the appointment of cadets to be third-class sub-inspectors. I may say my father was a sub-inspector of police, I have an uncle an ex-county inspector, and a cousin a second sub-inspector; so I have had some experience.....
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