News State Victoria News Christine Nixon defends Vic minister’s tennis outing

Christine Nixon defends Vic minister’s tennis outing

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Former Victoria Police Commissioner Christine Nixon has defended Emergency Services and Bushfire Response Minister Kim Wells for going to the tennis while bushfires threatened homes last Friday.

Mr Wells has been criticised for attending the Australian Open while fires burned across the state.

Ms Nixon, who faced intense criticism for leaving her post during the Black Saturday bushfires, said the minister had “not done anything wrong”.

“The minister was, I believe, behaving reasonably,” Ms Nixon told ABC Radio.

“He had been at the centre … he’d paid attention, he was very much involved in the planning beforehand.

“He left the people who knew how to manage it in charge.”

Ms Nixon said what bothered her about the criticism was that Mr Wells had not done anything wrong, had left people in charge and was in contact.

“This man has, according to my view, not done anything wrong,” Ms Nixon said.

Mr Wells defended himself saying he spent most of the day at the state control centre, then attended the tennis at night on a private ticket, where he remained in contact with Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley via text message.

“Had there been one issue whilst I was there, I would’ve been over at the state control centre in a flash,” Mr Wells said.

However, he said he would “seriously consider how I would do that in the future”.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright said Mr Wells has always been very focused on emergency management.

“I’ve seen him in the state control centre many times. I saw him there Friday. As far as I can see, the emergency response on Friday was well-handled,” he said.