By Colin MacGillivray
POLITICIANS, ex-footballers and former Victoria Police identities came together in Wallan last week to celebrate a book detailing the career of Kilmore’s Bryan Harding.
Mr Harding rose to the rank of chief superintendent within Victoria Police before heading the Police Association of Victoria for three years.
His career involved plenty of challenging the status quo within the police union.
Although sacked in 1990, Mr Harding remained close with many friends he made during his time in the police force.
Mr Harding, who grew up in Kilmore and attended Assumption College, wrote the book about his police career, which he said was currently in the hands of a publisher.
Many of Mr Harding’s friends and former colleagues gathered at Hogan’s Hotel on Friday for a lunch to celebrate the book’s completion.
Mr Harding said he had been forthright when discussing controversial parts of his career.
“The book is my career, which my children said to me that they knew little of, so it was driven by that to a large degree,” he said.
“Two significant journalists, John Silvester and Andrew Rule, spoke to me about it and said ‘if you’re going to write this, don’t hold back’.
“It’s about my career juxtaposed against the politics of police. A notable thing was my endeavour to modernise the police association. It had undergone no changes for 50 or 60 years, and it was not relevant to society as it was then.
“We had some dramatic moments at St Kilda Town Hall, where 1000 police officers were in attendance and I criticised our direction – for the last time, as it turned out.”
Former Police Association president Brian Rix said Mr Harding was ‘a fantastic man to head up the police association’.
“He brought the association’s reputation up pretty well,” Mr Rix said.
“I just admired the man. He was a real gentleman to everyone he met, and he tried to achieve a lot for police officers right across the board.
“It’ll be interesting to see what’s in the book.”
Former detective John Morrish described Mr Harding as a tactician when it came to dealing with politicians.
“Brian was a very eloquent and gentle man. There was not a nasty bone in his body,” he said.
Mr Harding said he was touched by the celebration of his book, which was largely kept a surprise.
“It [was] beautiful, and I’m totally surprised by it,” he said.
“Jim Hogan never said much about what this day was about, he just said some of my old comrades were coming. I didn’t realise that we’d have the moment we’ve had.”