In short: 

Police Inspector Wade Burns will be the new president of the Police Association of South Australia.

For several weeks leading up to voting day, his campaign has been embroiled with allegations of misconduct.

What’s next?

Inspector Burns will start his new role next week.

A police inspector has been elected as union president by a margin of less than 50 votes after allegations of misconduct were aired in South Australian parliament.

The Australian Electoral Commission results showed Inspector Wade Burns received 787 – or about 40 per cent – of the total 1,936 votes cast on Thursday.

Inspector Burns will replace Mark Carroll, who has been in the role for 17 years, as the new president of the Police Association of South Australia (PASA).

Last month, independent MLC Frank Pangallo raised concerns under parliamentary privilege against Inspector Burns about alleged “predatory behaviour” and alleged sexual assault of a female police employee during a social function.

He told parliament multiple complaints were lodged about Inspector Burns’s “egregious behaviour” during that function and Inspector Burns was demoted from chief inspector to senior sergeant in 2017.

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens later released a statement to correct Mr Pangallo’s claims that Inspector Burns led Project Equitas, a program to address sexual discrimination and harassment within the force following a 2016 review by the Equal Opportunity Commissioner.

“Inspector Burns never held a position within Project Equitas,” Commissioner Stevens wrote.

Grant Stevens released a statement regarding comments made about Wade Burns.(ABC News: Ethan Rix)

The police commissioner said an internal criminal investigation into the 2017 allegations was not referred for prosecution on the wishes of the alleged victim.

“I can confirm that, upon receipt of the relevant allegations in 2017, SAPOL’s Internal Investigation Section did commence a criminal investigation,” he said.

“Following the criminal investigation, after considering all relevant factors including, importantly, the wishes of the alleged victim, the matter was not referred for prosecution. Subsequently, a misconduct investigation was undertaken.”

Inspector Burns is reported to have denied it was a criminal matter, but Commissioner Stevens said it was not dishonest as he may not know an investigation had started.

“Inspector Burns did not institute an appeal on grounds of his demotion. In 2020, [then] Senior Sergeant Burns lodged a Police Review Tribunal appeal, challenging a decision by a SAPOL Selection Advisory Committee not to promote him to the rank of Inspector,” Commissioner Stevens said. 

“He was successful in his appeal and the tribunal ordered SAPOL to promote him to the rank of Inspector.”

ABC News has contacted Inspector Burns for comment.

A SA Police spokesperson said they have always maintained “a robust and constructive relationship” with the police union and expect that will continue under newly elected leadership.

“Several significant industrial benchmarks, including a new enterprise bargaining agreement, are now being negotiated and SAPOL will continue this process with the new PASA leadership team,” the spokesperson said.

Fellow candidate Darren Cornell trailed on 738, followed by Leonie Schulz on 313, and Kevin Lawton on 97.

Less than half of PASA’s 4,635 eligible members cast their vote in the election.