Under a Bad Sun: Police, Politics, and Corruption in Australia

On today’s episode, we’re joined by Paul Bleakley to discuss his book Under a Bad Sun: Police, Politics, and Corruption in Australia. Thanks for tuning in.
In Under a Bad Sun: Police, Politics, and Corruption in Australia my guest Paul Bleakley asks, Why do police officers turn against the people they are hired to protect? A question that remains urgent in the wake of recent global protests against police brutality. As a historical criminologist, Bleakley addresses this question by examining an intersecting series of cases of police corruption in Queensland, Australia. The protection and extortion of illegal gambling operators and sex workers were only the most visible features of a decades-long, pervasive culture of corruption in the state’s law enforcement agency. Even more dangerous—and far harder to prosecute—was a corrupt bargain between the police and the state’s conservative government, which gave law enforcement free rein to profit from criminalized vice in return for supporting the government’s repression and persecution of its political enemies, such as punk music fans to gay men to left-wing protestors. While intimidating members of the political opposition, the police also protected friends and allies from criminal prosecution, even for offenses as serious as child sex abuse. When journalists and investigators revealed this corrupt bargain in 1987, the premier was forced from office and the police commissioner went to prison. But untangling politics from policing proved—and continues to prove—far more difficult in societies around the world. This true crime story goes beyond the everyday violations of law and ethics to underscore the centrality of honest, equitable policing to a truly democratic society.

PAUL BLEAKLEY is a historical criminologist and former journalist from the Gold Coast, Queensland. He is currently Assistant Professor in Criminal Justice at the University of New Haven, in Connecticut, where he teaches a variety of courses focused on policing and theories of criminal behavior.

Paul Bleakley’s Under a Bad Sun: Police, Politics, and Corruption in Australia is available at msupress.org and other fine booksellers. You can find him @Drbleaks on Twitter, and you can connect with the press on Facebook and @msupress on Twitter, where you can also find me @kurtmilb.

The MSU Press podcast is a joint production of MSU Press and the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University. Thanks to the team at MSU Press for helping to produce this podcast. Our theme music is “Coffee” by Cambo. 

Michigan State University occupies the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary Lands of the Anishinaabeg – Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi people. The University resides on Land ceded in the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw.

Thank you all so much for listening, and never give up books.

MSU Press