When I told them I was moving to Queensland, all my Bananaland mates, includung the conservatuves, had one piece of advice: Watch out for the Queensland Police.
“They’re aggressive, unpleasant, corrupt and a pack of bastards” one wrote me. And he is a policeman!
Since then I have had three meetings with the Maroons in blue.
No1: Shortly after we arrived in Brisbane, my teenage granddaughter and two of her mates asked me to take them to Subway for lunch. The carpark was tight and slightly uphill. Backing out, my towbar accidentally touched the bumper of the car behind.
I got out, spoke to the other driver who inspected his car and declared there was no damage done. We shook hands and were both about to leave when some scruffy character in jeans and a sweat shirt demanded to see my licence. He was a plainclothes policeman, he claimed, flashing a gun and a warrant card.
And so he was. He breathalysed me and warned that, technically, I was an unlicensed driver (a NZ licence is valid in Australia for only four months).
The other driver intervened, saying that no damage had been done, and was warned he would be arrested. Finally, unable to catch me for anything, the officer stalked away.
No 2: My wife and I drove north of Brisbane to Gympie, a pleasant little town a couple of hours away. We found a restaurant and settled in for lunch (I was then thrown out for not wearing shoes, but that’s another story). We settled in at a second eating place where the staff didn’t care whether I was barefoot or not.
We had a Leisurely meal, with a cocktail to start and shared a bottle of wine. Then started to drive back into town.
On a four lane motorway. most of it very straight, my wife was pulled over for exceeding the speed limit. Speed limits in Queensland are crazy, one moment the limit can be 120kph, then 100, then 110, then back to 120 again.
The cop declared my wife was just under the limit, but still required her to travel with him to the cop shop for a blood test. I was left to follow them in our car. Interestingly Mr Plod never asked ME if I had been drinking or even if I had a licence.
I gave up trying to keep in touch with his police car, which weaved among the traffic, sometimes excdeeding 140kph.When I finally found the police station this prick was waiting for me, demanding to know why I took so long. When I told him, he shouted: “Nonsense, you don’t know you’re talking about.” He then demanded I not come on to police property!
As soon as he had disappeared inside I went hunting for a superior officer and found a very friendly acting Senior Sergeant who took my complaint.
Leaving the station, I bumped into the Senior Constable again.
“Your wife was very lucky,” he snarled, “She was just under the limit.”
“Well, you’re not so lucky,” I replied, “I have just laid a complaint about you.”
“Won’t do you any good. We’re bulletproof,” he boasted back. He then refused to show me his warrant card and when I tried to shake hands with him asked me: “Why should I shake hands with the likes of you?”
It took several weeks for my complaint to be acknowledged. Then I received a curt letter saying it had been investigated, no further action would be taken, and the matter was closed.
I wrote back, stating it was far from closed. I asked how the investigation was conducted, who was interviewed and why I was not spoken to by the investigators. I received back a second copy of the first letter.
Weeks later, someone apparently decided this was not quite good enough and wrote to me again. This time I was told the constable had been interviewed, my wife questioned (she was sitting in the back of the car and had no idea how fast it was going). The letter then said the constable could not possibly have been speeding if you compared the distance he travelled with the time he had taken.
This evidence, of course demonstrates only the average speed, part of the journey was through a built up area!
No 3: I was stopped by a cop, a good one this time, for having expired registration (“rego” , of course in Australia). He approached me armed with a large screwdriver…..
Having yet to become used to police carrying guns, I had this vision of being stabbed to death, rather than shot down. But no, all he wanted to do was to remove the number plates. It cost me $750 in fines, another $350 to reregister the car, plus $70 for the Australian equivalent of a WOF.
The policeman also mentioned I was an unlicensed driver and to “get that fixed some time”.
Cripes, this is a crazy country!
I must say that I often think we don’t realise how lucky we are with our Police.