The Queensland police minister, Mark Ryan, was sent an audio recording of officers joking about beating and burying black people last month, but declined to meet with the whistleblower who sent it.
The whistleblower, watch house officer Steven Marshall, had approached Ryan and sought a private meeting, citing “significant” prior alleged reprisals for making complaints via official police channels.
Ryan’s office referred the matter – including other serious allegations – to the Queensland police service.
On Sunday, Guardian Australia published recordings made by Marshall, which revealed QPS staff at the Brisbane city watch house using racist language and offensive slurs.
The tapes include officers referring to Nigerians as “jigaboos”, complaining “you’ve got to be embarrassed about being white” and raising fears that Australia “will be fucking taken over”.
The recordings follow evidence at the state inquiry into police responses to domestic and family violence, which included dozens of examples of racist, misogynistic and sexist behaviour by police. The inquiry is due to table its final report today.
Marshall went public with the recordings after reaching out to Ryan and sending one audio file to his office, alongside other allegations of misconduct.
In a detailed email, Marshall sought a meeting with the minister and explained why he was approaching him directly: he alleged he had been subject to ongoing and “significant” reprisals for reporting misconduct via official QPS channels. He said that he was suffering from PTSD and had been suicidal as a result.
“Reprisal action was swift and has been on-going for me. I learnt [sic] that I could not rely on my organisation or others to protect me.
“Politics took precedence over human rights and criminal behaviour. Subsequently, actions were taken to preserve evidence, some of which, predominantly the less damaging stuff, has come out in the Royal Commission.
“The reprisals for reporting corruption have been detrimental to my career, health and future job prospects. Unfortunately, it looks like I’m being cornered into litigation or whistleblowing.”
A staffer in Ryan’s office responded and said the minister had “referred this matter to the QPS”, that he understood an investigation was ongoing, and that Marshall should contact the police ethical standards command about it.
Marshall said he believed the response put him at further risk.
“It’s clear in my email that I’m approaching the minister with concerns about the institutional response. But it’s reckless, after being told that I’ve exhausted options raising these things internally, and that I’ve already had repercussions for raising issues, to then send it back to the police,” Marshall said.
A spokesperson for Ryan said on Sunday racist and violent language was “totally deplorable and unacceptable” but did not respond to specific questions about his office’s response to Marshall’s email.
“The minister has been informed that the allegations are with the ethical standards command and the Crime and Corruption Commission for assessment,” the spokesperson said.
“It would be inappropriate for the minister to comment further at this time.”