Bishop Manning briefs police on new workplace moral conundrum

Parramatta's Bishop Kevin Manning has warned the NSW Police Association that the Government's new workplace laws presented a moral conundrum for police officers.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Bishop Manning made the comments in a speech to 160 union delegates representing 15,000 NSW Police at the Police Association's Biennial Conference in Terrigal this week.

Bishop Manning said police were part of the wider union movement and would have to contend with the consequences of social dislocation including homelessness, unemployment and poverty that was likely to arise from the Government's new workplace relations laws.

Bishop Manning, an energetic critic of the new workplace laws, said he was not suggesting police should not get involved if a protest turned violent, but that it was an ethical question only the police could answer.

"How will you feel as individuals when you are required to police public protests, or situations related to the legislation which you may find morally questionable?" he asked delegates.

"A just society cannot expect its police force to enforce laws that undermine human dignity."

Last month the NSW Police Association said its members would not support the use of a water cannon, bought by the public order and riot squad, at union picket lines and protests.

Bishop Manning said the laws contravened Bible teachings that employees should not be treated as commodities and that the fruits of the world are meant for all.

Mark Burgess, of the Police Federation of Australia, said officers would abide by their oaths to police worker protests but that many off-duty officers would probably want to join protests, and those on police lines might privately support protests.

Protests an ethical test for police: bishop (Sydney Morning Herald 24/5/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Diocese of Parramatta
Police Association of NSW

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24 May 2006