Former Police Minister Carl Scully tells what happened behind the scenes after the Cronulla riot

Carl Scully, Morris Iemma and senior police including Mark Goodwin at North Cronulla in the week before the riot, after concerns were raised of a vigilante response following an assault on lifesavers. Picture: Andrew Meares
Carl Scully, Morris Iemma and senior police including Mark Goodwin at North Cronulla in the week before the riot, after concerns were raised of a vigilante response following an assault on lifesavers. Picture: Andrew Meares

Former Police Minister Carl Scully has revealed he threatened to call in the army because he was unhappy with the police response after the 2005 Cronulla riot.

Mr Scully tells what went on behind-the-scenes after the shocking violence in a chapter of his political memoir, titled Setting the Record Straight, which was launched on Friday.

Carl Scully at the book launch at Parliament House.

Carl Scully at the book launch at Parliament House.

Those events ultimately cost him his political career when he was sacked for misleading Parliament – a charge he strenuously denies.

“The protest at Cronulla beach about foreigners visiting their beach was an ugly display of Australia at its worst,” Mr Scully said in his book.

“Inebriated white trash turned up in hundreds to protest and oppose all foreign looking people from daring to tread upon what they regarded as their Caucasian turf.”

Mr Scully detailed the initial violence followed by retaliation from “thugs from Western Sydney Middle Eastern gangs”.

He said, despite Parliament approving emergency powers enabling police to designate “no go” zones, he feared the following weekend could see even worse violence.

”​I was not satisfied with the commissioner [Ken Moroney] allocating only 600 police to do the job...,” he said.

“The commissioner got the message when I threatened to bring in the army to restore order in our streets.

“Under the command of Assistant Commissioner Mark Goodwin, 2000 additional police were brought to bear on resolving once and for all the riotous behaviour which had been breaking out all over the place.”

After the situation calmed down, Mr Scully left for a month-long trip to Europe, but was recalled by Premier Morris Iemma who had told him, “These clowns running the cops have run amok since you have left”.

Mr Scully said police were starting to round up people from the initial protest.

“The community supported by the shock jocks started to complain and ask what were the cops doing about catching the Middle Eastern criminals, who they argued had done worse than anything their local thugs had done”, he said.

Mr Scully said Mr Moroney had gone “into freestyle in my absence and claimed that the detectives did not have any camera footage of Middle Eastern attacks, but had plenty of film of the criminal behaviour of a number of Sutherland’s finest”.

“This sounded plausible until it was demonstrated it was untrue,” he said.

Mr Scully said Mr Moroney had then taken a step “which should have only been a stone in the pond of turmoil”, but which would ultimately end his political career.

“To make himself look responsive to all the heated criticism, Moroney announced a sweeping inquiry...” he said.

Mr Scully said he became concerned when Deputy Commissioner Andrew Scipione called him to say riot commander Mark Goodwin was very upset with the selection of a former assistant commissioner Norm Hazzard to conduct the inquiry.

“Scipione could not have been blunter: ‘Mark has complained to me that he and Hazzard never got along and he believes Hazzard is there to do a job on him’ ” Mr Scully said.

“I think Scipione was trying to do me a favour. I should have listened.”

Mr Sculy said he made some discreet inquiries which confirmed “Moroney may have decided to give Goodwin a hard time”.

However, Mr Scully had not been alarmed enough to overrule the commissioner.

He had allowed Mr Hazzard “to do his job”, but was then “gobsmacked” when Mr Hazzard told him he had completed the report and it was at the printers,.

“I immediately smelt a rat,” Mr Scully said.

He said for Mr Moroney to hand pick the investigator and then allow him, without consultation or feedback, to complete the report, “defied belief”.

Mr Scully was able to delay the release of the report so others could review it and Mr Goodwin could respond to criticism, but the minister’s statements that the report had not been completed led to the charge of him misleading Parliament.

That situation started to unfold in October, 2006 when, after a community cabinet meeting at Miranda, a journalist from the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader  “asked about the status of the report”.

Channel 9 News had followed up on the question that night, and other media joined in.

”The real cause of my demise was that I was trying to protect the government and Commander Goodwin,”Mr Scully said.

[ After the report was released, Mr Goodwin went on extended sick leave before leaving the police force.]

Mr Scully said, “Looking back on this affair, it is pretty clear that I was sacked not because of what had actually transpired that day in the House or previous days, but because Iemma was sick of the media attention on the Cronulla Riot Report, and as he had done so often in the past, came to the view that a sacking was what was needed to close off the whole sisue”.