Thursday, 15 December 2022
Arnold, Constable Matthew, Dare, Mr Alan, McCrow, Constable Rachel
I join with the Prime Minister in his fine words and acknowledge that in the gallery today, representing the police family, are Acting Commissioner Ian McCartney, Acting Deputy Commissioner Lesa Gale and Acting Assistant Commissioner Stephen Dametto.
In the aftermath of a tragedy we reflect on what we've lost and what we've learned. Constable Rachel McCrow was sworn in as a police officer last year. Her friends said she was a person with a selfless nature and a genuine care for others, a person who always went above and beyond and took pride in her job. Constable Matthew Arnold was a triplet. His former principal said that he was a talented athlete and that he'll be remembered as a man of service, integrity and compassion. Alan Dare was due to celebrate his 26th wedding anniversary on Wednesday. A resident of Tara described him as a kind man who looked after disadvantaged teenagers.
Constable McCrow, Constable Arnold and Mr Dare meant so much to so many. For those many, of course, there will be much pain and sadness, now and enduring. Those of us who didn't know Constable McCrow, Constable Arnold or Mr Dare will continue to hear about their lives and their deeds in many tributes. Our nation, clearly, has lost three wonderful Australians, three people who embodied compassion, commitment and courage during their lives and in their final moments. Certainly those are qualities that we will remember, and which we will revere. It's those qualities which will continue to inspire confidence in us to confront evil, wherever it lurks.
I want to also acknowledge and pay tribute to Constable Randall Kirk and Constable Keely Brough. As the Prime Minister pointed out and others have said, their bravery, their composure and their quick thinking in extreme has helped save their own lives, as well as others, in calling for backup. We certainly wish Constable Kirk a speedy recovery from his wounds.
At the National Police Memorial here in Canberra, there is a walkway, and engraved into that walkway are the words of loved ones, fellow officers and community members, in memory of those they lost. This is one tribute: 'She had special qualities of reliability, of dedication and community spirit;' and another: 'That man was a godsend to the area; it needed someone just like him.' Whilst those words speak to specific individuals, of course they also capture the ethos of Australia's law enforcement community. Australians have always been able to rely on those who wear a uniform at the state and federal levels. They go into the line of fire and into danger zones so that we don't have to. I hope that the virtues displayed by Constables McCrow, Arnold, Kirk and Brough continue to inspire the next generation of young police officers.
I want to acknowledge the work of Commissioner Katarina Carroll and her bravery, her leadership and her inspiration. Equally, I want to acknowledge the contribution and the support of the Queensland Police Union, headed by Ian Leavers, and the associations and the federation, which do great work around the country in providing that day-to-day support and the support in years to come.
The depravity of this incident is what has struck hardest. On 29 September, many of us went to police memorials around the country for the commemoration day, to mark those who had lost their lives in the service of their state or the Commonwealth—every one them a tragedy. But, in this instance, what has hit hardest across the country is the execution style and the complete disregard for the human beings these officers were—the premeditated nature of the attack and the callous lack of heeding the pleas that would have echoed in between the gunshots. I want to acknowledge the work of all of those who attended the scene, including forensics officers, Special Emergency Response Team officers and the many police officers who will be scarred from this experience.
By chance, as I returned from Toowoomba earlier this week, we came onto the highway to go to Brisbane, and the motorcade was there, carrying the bodies of the officers, with the highway blocked as they moved down to Brisbane to the John Tonge Centre. It was a reminder of the good and the bravery that they displayed.
I want to thank the Prime Minister for the condolence motion today. I say thank you to all of those who provided support and comfort to the families involved and all of those who have attended police stations. There are many reports of local communities, particularly in western Queensland, running out of flowers, and the tributes will continue for some time to come. Our thoughts are also with the officers of the Tara and Chinchilla police stations, the Queensland Police Service more broadly and the Wieambilla community, represented ably by the Leader of the Nationals here today. This is particularly difficult as we head into Christmas. We should all spare a thought and a prayer for those who have lost their lives and for those who continue to serve over Christmas to keep our families and us safe.