New boss at Emergency Management Victoria as Lapsley quits after ‘inappropriate workplace behaviour’

By The Mandarin

Wednesday August 8, 2018

Victoria Police deputy commissioner Andrew Crisp will head up Emergency Management Victoria as its new top commissioner from Monday.

The appointment comes after Craig Lapsley resigned yesterday citing his own unacceptable workplace behaviour. He was on leave at the time while bullying complaints were investigated.

“I am aware there has been criticism of my conduct, and I recognise and acknowledge that on occasion I engaged in inappropriate workplace behaviour that was abrasive and confronting and that I did not treat people with the great respect they deserved,” Lapsley said in a statement yesterday.

“Upon reflection I believe I could have done much more to show and communicate my unquestioned admiration of, and support for the people who are at the heart of the state’s emergency response system.

“I deeply regret the instances where my conduct fell short of the very high standards expected of me, and I apologise sincerely to those people affected.”

Union politics behind the complaints: insiders

People within the emergency management sector have told The Mandarin a campaign to remove Lapsley with complaints was driven by state union politics that have plagued the sector in recent years.

Lapsley, aware of the campaign strategy, had resolved to forward all complaints about himself, no matter how trivial, for review by the Justice portfolio secretary, Greg Wilson.

The now-former commissioner has not commented on the source or motives behind the complaints, nor suggested his resignation was related to anything but his own behaviour.

According to the Herald Sun, one former staff member received a $70,000 payout following a complaint against Lapsley.

He was appointed as EMV’s inaugural commissioner in 2014, following a shake-up of emergency management structures following the 2009 Royal Commission into Victoria’s recent bushfires.

While the politics of the Victoria’s emergency management sector has been brutal — Jane Garrett resigned as emergency management minister in 2016 over the firefighters’ union dispute — the current minister James Merlino said the state was better prepared to handle future bushfires and emergencies as a result of the work of EMV under Lapsley. He praised the outbound commissioner as a significant leader of the sector, delivering results in the state’s preparedness, response and recovery capability.

Crisp takes over

Merlino said Crisp brings to the role strong national relationships in both policing and emergency management, with 40 years of experience that includes counterterrorism, countering extreme violence, critical infrastructure protection and emergency management coordination.

His recent achievements include an enhanced focus on the wellbeing of Victoria Police employees, overseeing responses to the Bourke Street and Flinders Street tragedies and leading significant reductions in Victoria’s crime rate.

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