Ground zero well known to inquiry member

By: Tony Koch

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DETAILS of floods at Murphys Creek at the foot of the Toowoomba range will not surprise former Queensland police commissioner and newly-appointed member of the commission of inquiry into the current crisis, Jim O'Sullivan.
Mr O'Sullivan, 72, spent the first 14 years of his life at Murphys Creek, completed his entire primary school education at the local state school, and used to catch fish in Lockyer Creek -- the scene of the most destructive flooding last week.
``Dad was a railway department employee and like many others in that era, we were very poor,'' he said yesterday.
``In those days the steam train would come from Brisbane and the range was too steep for it to go up pulling carriages, so another locomotive would be sent down from Toowoomba, go around a big loop line at Murphys Creek, and it would help pull the train.
``Dad was an engine operator. It was his job to pump the water to ensure it was softened and then put it into the steam engine boilers.
``If the electric motors broke down, which was often, he had to pump the water by hand because the train had to get through.
``There were always plenty of floods there, but nothing like we have just seen.''
Mr O'Sullivan said he began his working career with the Post Office in Toowoomba and nearby Oakey before joining the Police Department in 1959, serving initially in Roma and Mitchell in western Queensland.
When the inquiry into political and police corruption was announced in 1987, inquiry head Tony Fitzgerald QC insisted that Inspector Jim O'Sullivan be appointed to head the commission's investigation team. Mr O'Sullivan was known among fellow officers as ``Mr Incorruptible''.
He gave evidence against more than 100 officers during, and as a result of, the Fitzgerald inquiry, and investigated and gave evidence against then police commissioner Terence Lewis.
On the recommendation of Mr Fitzgerald, Mr O'Sullivan was appointed commissioner in 1994 and served two three-year terms before retiring, having served for 41 years in the force.
But his retirement was short-lived, with requests from governments throughout Australia for his help and advice on policing and security issues.
In 2003, he headed a team reviewing and restructuring the Northern Territory police force and in 2006 was one of three members of the board of inquiry into thedeath of Private Jake Kovco.
Kovco was shot with his own pistol at the Australian Security Detachment headquarters in Baghdad in 2006 and the commission found he had been ``skylarking'' and accidentally inflicted the wound.