'Not a Labor warrior': New police Assistant Commissioner refutes claims of bias

Victoria Police's incoming Assistant Commissioner has defended himself against accusations he is a "Labor warrior", saying he ripped up his Labor Party membership when he rejoined the force in 2015.

Brett Curran was announced on Tuesday as the new Assistant Commissioner for Gender Equality and Inclusion.

Victoria Police's incoming Assistant Commissioner for Gender Equality and Inclusion Brett Curran.

Mr Curran will begin the job after serving as chief of staff to Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton since 2015.

Before that, Mr Curran served as chief of staff to Daniel Andrews when the now Premier was opposition leader until 2014, and as chief of staff to Labor police minister Bob Cameron between 2007-10.

He served 26 years in the Victoria Police force before entering politics.

State Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien called Mr Curran's appointment an error of judgment.

"Brett Curran ... is a Labor political warrior. That goes with the job of chief of staff to an opposition leader," he said on Tuesday.

Curran served as chief of staff to both Graham Ashton and Daniel Andrews.

"Victorians deserve an apolitical police force. Making the Premier's former chief of staff an assistant commissioner undermines Victoria Police's reputation for political impartiality."

Speaking on radio station 3AW, Mr Curran said he was no longer a member of the Labor Party and did not socialise with Mr Andrews or Police Minister Lisa Neville.

He said his long career at Victoria Police proved his ability to act without favouring one side of politics.

"I can see the perception of it [the potential for bias]. The issue for me is to deal with any conflicts of interest that exist, and I always have," he said.

"I have to be absolutely open and let people know I am behaving appropriately and fairly and without favouring any political side.

"My career has been exceptionally diverse. I've been a prosecutor, an investigator, [on] general duties, I've run a local area command, and my duty then was not political at all. It was to make sure people were safe at homes, in the streets and on the roads."

Mr Curran said he had strong working relationships with both Mr Andrews and Mr Neville, but said he would not call them "friends".

The incoming Assistant Commissioner said he had previously recused himself from "even the most benign discussion" about the politically-charged red shirts affair to ensure there was no perception of bias.

Mr O'Brien also questioned whether Mr Curran played a role in the multimillion-dollar taxpayer-funded payout made to gangland lawyer and police informer Nicola Gobbo while he was chief of staff to Mr Cameron in 2010.

Mr Curran confirmed he was aware of Ms Gobbo's litigation against Victoria Police at the time but, to the best of his memory, he did not remember having any involvement in the payout.

Mr Curran said he had provided a statement to the royal commission into police's handling of Ms Gobbo, but did not know if he would give evidence.

Also on Tuesday, Victoria Police announced Commander Libby Murphy would replace the outgoing Stephen Leane as Assistant Commissioner for Road Policing Command.


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