This image refers to the Royal Commission, headed by Justice James Wood, which investigated police corruption in New South Wales a few years ago. Royal Commissions have strong powers of investigation and this one was notable for its use of various sophisticated listening and viewing devices to obtain incriminating evidence against a number of corrupt officers. The tapes from these recording devices were a great hit on local television.

What is the significance of the canary in the cage? The investigators were able to 'turn' several police(persons) against their own. They 'sang' like canaries!

The problem of police corruption has existed in the State of New South Wales since the time of the Rum Corps, in the early years of this penal colony. One result of the Wood Royal Commission was the appointment of a 'clean-skin' Police Commissioner, Peter Ryan, who was recruited in England for the task. Ryan became the highest-paid public servant in Australia, and proved to be remarkably popular with the public, at least for a while. Alas, he has since been sacked by the Carr Government, supposedly because he was better at media manipulation than at preventing real crime. Ryan has asserted that political interference prevented him from doing his job properly.