She admitted under cross-examination that she did not attend the State Emergency Response Co-ordination Centre until noon on Black Saturday, despite knowing the fires were already out of control on a day the Government warned would be “as bad a day as you can imagine”.
Not once did she check if police had fulfilled their formal responsibility to issue warnings to towns in the path of the fires.
From 1.30pm to 3pm, she actually left the SERCC and retired to her office to clean up paperwork, neither seeking nor receiving in those 90 minutes a single briefing or call on the fires.
Nor did she call any police in the fire zones to check their wellbeing, ask for news or offer help.
She did not call the Premier once, even to discuss - as is her job - declaring a state of emergency.
She did not call in her Deputy Commissioner in charge of disasters, Kieran Walshe, and he himself - perhaps following his boss’s example - did not turn up at work until nightfall, and only to give a press conference.
She failed to check that every regional commander in the fire-prone areas was at their post, and to this day does not know if they were.
It was as if she were a mere spectator. Not once did she seem to actually do anything to help. And it got worse.
On returning to the emergency headquarters at 3.30pm, Nixon did not ask for another briefing on the fires, even though she says she heard the staff say: “This is looking terrible; there are many more fires.”
“I should have, but I didn’t,” she told the commission, explaining that everyone seemed “very busy” and “carrying out their responsibilities”.
They acted. She watched. And was treated as a mere watcher, too.
Her senior officials didn’t bother to tell her that nursing homes and hospitals were being evacuated in Neerim South and near Bunyip. She also didn’t check how police planned to protect fans at a country music festival at threatened Whittlesea.
Nor did she ask for or read the police log in the room that noted what her officers were battling to do.
“It sounds rather passive, Ms Nixon,” the startled counsel assisting the bushfire commission exclaimed.
At 5pm, the fire service chiefs did at last brief the paralysed Nixon, warning her the fires seemed about to burn Strathewen, and there was a “real potential for people to lose their lives”. Worse, a change of wind later that evening threatened Kinglake and other towns and “we were facing a disaster”.
The Police Minister had been called in to help co-ordinate the effort.
It was now about 5.30pm. And what did Nixon decide to do at this moment of crisis, with lives to save?
She asked an Assistant Commissioner, Steve Fontana, to brief the Police Minister in her place while she went out to dinner.
She deserted her post. And didn’t return that night, not even after hearing whole towns had been destroyed.
Column - Why Nixon fled her post | Herald Sun Andrew Bolt Blog